JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown Reapportionment Commission has started the process of redrawing city council ward boundary lines.
Known as reapportionment, the process happens every ten years following the U.S. Census. The group is tasked with proposing new ward boundary lines, with the goal of getting an even number of voters within each ward.
“We had the benefit of a couple different maps, sample maps to look at tonight,” says Chairman Peter Johnson.
The proposed new maps were shown to the committee, and come with some positives and negatives, some members like Ward II Councilman, and Council President, Tony Dolce, who says that some people might get confused about what Ward they are in.
Others, like Ward I Councilman Brent Sheldon, believe the changes are too drastic.
“We also discussed sort of pros and cons about if now is the time to be considering moving from 6 wards as we currently have down to 5,” explained Johnson. “And we spent a fair amount of time discussing the pros and cons around those lines.”
Because of changes in population, the committee will have to change the ward boundaries to meet new standards. While the state allows up to a five percent difference in population, the local commission would like to see the difference be within one percent or less.
The committee plans to meet next week for a more in depth look at the potential changes.
“Our next opportunity to look at the maps, we’re going to try to hone in with greater detail on what the proposed changes might look like neighborhood to neighborhood,” stated Johnson.
Based on the latest Census numbers, most wards have seen population shifts, with the largest being Ward I, losing 254 residents on the city’s northeast side. Others that saw a decrease in population include Ward VI with a loss of 197 residents on the southeast side of town.
Wards II, IV, and V all saw increases in residents with each gaining 136, 161, and 151 respectively. Meanwhile Ward III noted a very small change, with an increase of just five inhabitants.
Once a map is chosen, there will be a vote on if it should be recommended to the city council, who has final approval on the reapportionment process.