Panama City Quickly Drops the "At Large Voting" idea

You probably won't hear much talk about at-large voting during Panama City commission meetings in the future.

During Tuesday night’s meeting Mayor Lauren DeGeorge suggested all of the city's voters should have the opportunity to vote on all of the commission candidates in all four wards.

The response she got was an education on the city's political history. Right off the bat, Mayor DeGeorge admitted she didn't know the history of single member district voting in Panama City when she put this item on the agenda.

She assured the audience there would not be a decision, only discussion, and then explained her reasons for supporting at-large voting. But, what followed was a long list of private citizens who
urged her to leave the system alone.

DeGeorge called a halt to the discussion and apologized to those on hand. She told them she was not aware of the legal history that brought about single member districts in the first place. The civil rights group A-C-U-R-E filed that 1985 lawsuit against Panama City so minorities, which make up about 25% of the city's population, could get fair representation.

Federal judge Roger Vinson ordered the single-member district voting after A-C-U-R-E’s lawyers convinced him a minority candidate had no chance of getting elected under at-large voting in Panama City.