During the last two summers I conducted a statistical analysis of the voting patterns in Danville’s City Commission. Given the various controversies surrounding the firing of the former city manager and the “Gang of Three” (as the local newspaper put it), it was surprising to some to find that the former city commissioners actually voted together more than 80% of the time. (See former posts here and here).
Six months have now elapsed since Danville voters elected Paul Smiley and Paige Stevens to replace Norma Gail Louis and Ryan Montgomery on the City Commission. My Centre College research assistant Ben Yeager collected all of the votes taken by the new Commission since their first meeting of the current term on January 14th, 2013 and up through the meeting held June 24th, 2013, a total of 253 votes in all.
The first item to note is that a full 87.3% of votes of the city commissioners in 2013 have been completely unanimous, almost 5% higher than the previous Commission.
Further analysis indicates that almost all of the non-unanimous votes came during the funding meeting held on May 28th, 2013. Taking the votes held at that meeting out of the picture, we have a Commission that has voted together 94.9% of the time. (One of the few issues where there has not been unanimity has been in the votes to annex City Manager Ron Scott’s property into Danville city limits – a holdover issue from the controversy surrounding his hiring from the previous commission. On these votes, J.H. Atkins has been the lone dissenter.)
We can also see how often each commissioner votes the same way as every other commissioner during 2013 so far:
As might be expected from the previous term, J.H. Atkins and Bernie Hunstad are still the most distant in their voting patterns. Surprisingly, Kevin Caudill and Mayor Hunstad show the highest degree of unanimity in their voting patterns this term, agreeing almost 96% of the time. I say “surprising” only because Commissioner Caudill gained a reputation during the 2011-2012 term for opposing Mayor Hunstad on a number of issues along with Commissioner Atkins.
There was also some discussion previous to last November’s election as to whether Paul Smiley would tend to side with Mayor Hunstad or with the Atkins/Caudill “faction.” It appears from these votes that Commissioner Smiley tends to vote more closely along with Commissioners Atkins and Stevens than Mayor Hunstad. This is contrary to my previous prediction that Paul Smiley would be the “swing” voter on the Commission.
Indeed, these results suggest that if there is a “faction” of any kind in Danville’s new Commission, it is Mayor Hustand and Commissioner Caudill vs. Commissioners Atkins, Stevens and Smiley. And this really only came into play at the funding meeting on May 28th.
That all being said, any emphasis on differences in voting patterns is overblown, given that the commissioners are voting together 90-95% of the time.