Having served as alderman for Ward 8 in Bloomington when my friend Jim Fruin was alderman for Ward 9, I agree that the ward system has lost its usefulness. Bloomington was guided by a ward system from 1850 until 1952 when a broad system was adopted and lasted until 1979 when the ward system was again adopted by citizen vote of 2,291 against 2,267 or 24 votes. The Modified Service System was not an available option at that time.
In 2014, I led an effort to replace the ward system with a modified ward system with three general councilors and six city councilors collecting 1,238 petition signatures to make a change to the MWS in the March 18, 2014 ballot. Citizens voted to retain the all-ward system at that time.
There are a few major benefits of MWS. First, each citizen could vote for four aldermen instead of just one. Second, there would be three aldermen and the mayor focusing on town issues.
An oft-expressed drawback was that the West Side would not be as well represented. This makes the false assumption that people will vote based on which side of town they live on. When I was a city councilor, we had a discussion about a $21,000 donation from the city to help underprivileged children administered by the West Side Churches Untied for Youth program. The vote was seven in favor to two against. The two against were Judy Stearns whose neighborhood included Downtown and Kevin Lower whose neighborhood included the South West Side.
It may be time for the current City Council to vote to place the MWS on the next ballot to allow citizens to determine if the current all ward system serves better than the MWS might in Peoria and Champaign. .
Robert B. Fazzini, Bloomington