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Representation is an interesting topic, especially when referring to political representation.

I was emailed the following hypothetical question:

     I would like to give you a hypothetical situation and ask for your reply.      If an issue came before the Council that the majority of your constituents were in favor of, but you personally were against, how would you vote?  Since you were elected to represent the people of your district, would you vote with the majority and vote in favor of the issue or would you vote your personal opinion and vote against it?

This is my reply:

Thank you for contacting me. 

You ask a good question, and in the abstract is difficult to clearly answer. However, I will give you what my general approach to this would be.  

My first goal would be to make sure that residents are educated about the issues, which means that I would research the issue from multiple angles and send out information to those who live in District 2 for feedback. If it is a pressing issue that will directly impact many in the District, I would also hold a District meeting so I can hear different points of views and any concerns. Depending on what the issue is, there may be history to it. They would also have to be made aware of any longterm implications of the issue. 

I would then take all of that information and make the best decision I can for the community, and fully explain my vote. 

Like I said, given the abstract nature of the question, I cannot say yes or no, because oftentimes issues are more complex than originally portrayed. For instance, the approval of an issue could set a precedent that could have a negative impact in the future if used by another applicant. 

For some background, I am an associate professor at UNF in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, where I teach graduate students in the MPA program. I have an MPA, and my PhD is in political science, with a focus on public administration. The issue of representation is an interesting one, and what the role of elected officials is with regard to how they vote. Do they vote in favor of an issue because their constituents are in favor of it (even if it would be bad for the community), or is it their role to vote in the overall best interest of their constituents? This is an ongoing debate. What I can say is that I think any difference between the two can be addressed through engagement, information, and conversation. I want people to be engaged in their government, and when this is informed engagement, we are able to come together and solve problems that face the community. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more clarification. 

Thank you again for reaching out to me!

I would love to hear what your thoughts are on political representation!

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