Race and city -county consolidation: Black voting participation and municipal elections
Despite the fact that few large metropolitan areas have had city-county consolidations, interest remains high in these mergers as a means of restructuring urban government. Evaluation literature on city-county consolidations generally focuses on the criteria of efficiency and efficacy, not equity. Economic growth, cost savings, and tax levels and service provision are discussed more than the distribution of resources and power. There is a particular dearth of literature on political equity as it pertains to racial minorities. This study attempts to fill that void through the examination of black political participation levels prior to and following the four large-scale city-county consolidations in the last century: Nashville-Davidson County; Jacksonville-Duval County; Indianapolis-Marion County; and Louisville-Jefferson County. A common argument against consolidation is that it dilutes minority voting strength since urban minority populations have historically been concentrated in central cities. It is posited that black voter participation will decrease following consolidation due to a perception of loss of power. Further, sub-hypotheses positing that participation will vary among black voters according to socioeconomic status are explored. Mixed results are found in terms of turnout over time among the cities. Lack of available data presents operationalization issues in the cities and precludes any extensive analysis of Indianapolis. Therefore, discussion of Indianapolis is included only as an appendix.
0617: Public administration