Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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City reviews plan for redistricting to 4 wards

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[September 12, 2012]  Tuesday evening Will D'Andrea was in city council chambers to show aldermen a new ward map for the city.

D'Andrea is the GIS director for Logan County. When the city realized it was facing redistricting because of a drop in population, council members considered hiring a consultant to help them with the project. However, D'Andrea said he could assist them at a much lower cost than for a consultant, and it was agreed that would be the best route for the city to take.

In preparing for the reduction in city wards from five to four, several factors had to be considered. The population of each ward has to be similar. D'Andrea told the council that based on the city's total population, each ward would have to fall inside a population range of 3,200 to 3,900.

Also, the wards have to work within precinct lines that already exist in the city.

D'Andrea said that using the population numbers and the precincts, he had developed a core of the ward, then added and took away adjoining precincts until he reached the appropriate population in each ward.

He ended up with five scenarios for redistricting, which then went to a committee of city officials consisting of Mayor Keith Snyder, Alderwomen Melody Anderson and Marty Neitzel, and the city treasurer, Chuck Conzo.

Snyder said he took two of the five scenarios to Sally Litterly, the county clerk, for her input. He said Litterly examined the maps and concluded that as far as her office was concerned for the purpose of holding elections, either one would work. The committee then chose one, which was presented to the full council.

D'Andrea explained that when all was done, the wards broke down to populations of 3,742 in the new Ward 1, 3,950 in the new Ward 2, 3,393 in Ward 3 and 3,571 in Ward 4.

Conzo said the committee had tried to design a new set of wards with the least possible disruption to the current wards.

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Neitzel also talked about who the aldermen would be in each ward with this change.

For Ward 1 the aldermen will be Melody Anderson and Buzz Busby. Ward 2 will have Kathy Horn and David Wilmert. Ward 3 will be represented by Jonie Tibbs and Tom O'Donohue, and Ward 4 aldermen will be Jeff Hoinacki and Neitzel.

The two aldermen who are left out of the picture are David Armbrust and Stacy Bacon. Neitzel said Snyder had polled the sitting aldermen and found out who wanted to run for office in the next election. Bacon and Armbrust will not be running.

In the upcoming election, all eight seats will be up for grabs. Anyone who lives within the boundaries of the new wards can run for alderman.

Once the elections are held and aldermen are identified, their terms will be set by lottery at a city council meeting. Four of the aldermen will serve a two-year term and four will serve a four-year term. This will be done to reset the rotation of four aldermen up for election or re-election every two years.

The council is expected to vote next week to approve the map as presented. An ordinance will need to be written defining the new wards. All of this needs to be completed before the end of October, but the new districts will not take effect until the next election.


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