Your Voice at City Hall
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Your Voice at City Hall answers a major question of urban politics and government: "What difference does it make if city councils are elected at-large or by geographically defined districts or wards?"
During the past fifteen years, numerous American cities, particularly those in the South and Southwest, have witnessed efforts to replace at-large councils with district systems. Prior studies have reported that geographically concentrated minority groups are more likely to win council seats under districts. Heilig and Mundt demonstrate conclusively the minority advantage under districts, and they go beyond the questions addressed in existing research to see what actually happened in ten cities that adopted districts.
Through two years of intensive investigation they have determined the effects of districts on local politics, council-constituency interactions, the procedures of council decision-making, and outcomes of those decisions. The result is an important theoretical and empirical contribution to our understanding of urban politics and of representation in general.
Peggy Heilig teaches at the University of Illinois, and has published articles and given numerous papers on effective representation in local government. Robert J. Mundt is Chairman of the Political Science Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is coeditor of Crisis, Choice and Change: Historical Cases in Political Development, and articles on community politics and African affairs.