Wards would make city more democratic

*Wards would make city more democratic *No way to completely vet possible terrorist *Armed citizens

Wards would make city more democratic

The ward system is the form of representative government most familiar to everyone, since it mirrors the way members of Congress and the New York state Legislature are chosen.

The area being governed is broken up into many districts — each having approximately the same population. Each person lives in one of those districts, and the people in each district elect a single representative to participate in government on their behalf.

By law, towns and cities in New York initially have an at-large system for choosing the city or town council — unless the people of the town or city vote to change that system (as I am proposing to do now). At-large means that the entire population of the town or city votes to select who will fill each and every town or city council seat.

In the current system here in Schenectady, every council member is responsible to represent the needs and wishes of all of the people in the entire city, not just the people living in one area of the city. At least that is the theory. In reality, studies show that the at-large system leads to one-party rule and corrupt governing.

In Schenectady, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, it amounts to a rubber stamp for the mayor instead of an effective system of checks and balances. Also, city services and funds are distributed unequally to areas that have the most political clout on the council.

By changing to the ward system, each council member will have a mandate to represent the one ward (district) of the city that elected them rather than the entire city at large. Each district gets its own dedicated voice in city government. When the new City Council bangs its first 2016 gavel, three of the seven members will be from one neighborhood — Bellevue. That’s almost 50 percent. It’s not right nor democratic. Every neighborhood should have an equal voice.

The seven wards should be: Bellevue, Mont Pleasant, Central State/Hamilton Hill, Woodlawn, Downtown/Stockade, Goose Hill/Rosa Road and Union Street Corridor. This would give all citizens, as well alternate parties, a fair shot at representation. It’s called democracy.

It’s time for a special vote in 2016 to give Schenectady citizens their constitutional right.

Graham Higgins


No way to completely vet possible terrorists

As of now, there are hundreds of thousands of Syrians, including innocent men, women and children, who are seeking asylum from their war-stricken society and the horrors of ISIS. To combat this crisis, the Obama administration has announced its intentions to accept 10,000 of these refugees by the end of the year.

I believe this to be a grave mistake that potentially puts millions of Americans in danger. People on the left claim that taking in these refugees is the duty of America, as we represent a society that values inclusion and opportunity. These people also claim that the extensive vetting process that these refugees would experience is more than adequate to ensure the safety of all Americans against any potential acts of terrorism. I find these arguments to be flawed.

One of the terrorists who carried out the atrocities in Paris on Nov. 13 arrived in Europe mixed in with Syrian refugees. Immediately following these attacks, ISIS released a statement stating its intent to infiltrate American society via the influx of Syrian refugees, with hopes of carrying out other vicious attacks targeting major U.S. urban areas like Washington, D.C., and New York City.

In addition, the director of the FBI, James Comey, admitted that it would be next to impossible to have accurate information on every potential Syrian refugee. Some have falsified passports and have simply lied about their identity, preventing them from showing up on our databases. If the director of the FBI expresses doubts in the American vetting process, we should not trust President Obama as he claims these 10,000 refugees from Syria are going to be properly investigated.

As the tensions between radical Islam and Western civilization increase, our government has a responsibility to keep all Americans safe. Taking in these Syrian refugees would be a tremendous mistake with serious national security implications.

I truly hope President Obama reconsiders his perspective on this issue.

Ariana Mattice


Armed citizens have stopped many attacks

I read your Dec. 9 editorial, “Do we really want armed civilians?” and noticed an error.

In it you say “no one can point to a single incident in which a civilian has yet used a concealed weapon to subdue a shooter.”

As a matter of fact, the Washington Post asked the same type of question and found several instances where a licensed concealed shooter stopped shootings. (www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/10/03/do-civilians-with-guns-ever-stop-mass-shootings/). There are many more instances of a legally concealed shooter stopping or preventing crime available online. The Armed Citizen is one site. Thank you for allowing me to opine.

William Hartman



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