City Council to vote on additional member to Reapportionment Committee

Saturday, June 18, 2011 | 5:39 p.m. CDT; updated 8:27 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 12, 2011

COLUMBIA — City Council will vote on a resolution Monday to add an eighth member to the Ward Reapportionment Committee following concerns of a lack of minority representation.

If passed, an appointment will be made immediately, Mayor Bob McDavid said.

The resolution states the appointment will be made by the mayor, but McDavid said he has requested nominations from the council and will not make a decision without a consensus.

The committee is redrawing city ward boundaries to distribute populations throughout the the city's six wards more evenly because of population growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. Each council member appointed one person from his or her ward to sit on the original committee, except McDavid, who appointed former mayor Bob Pugh as an at-large member to lead the committee.

Some citizens, such as Mary Ratliff, president of the local and state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapters, criticized city officials for not appointing any minority members to the committee.

Efforts to reach Ratliff on Saturday were unsuccessful.

McDavid said he suggested adding another at-large member to the committee after he was informally approached by a broad group of minority citizens who said the current committee doesn't represent minority voices.

It was a fragmented process where everyone made their appointments independently, McDavid said.

"And that was a mistake," he said.

Glenn B. Cobbins Sr., who has friends and family in the First Ward, said having a minority figure on the committee sounds like a good idea. But, Cobbins said, that person needs to be familiar with the culture and the community's issues.

He thinks an interview process for nominees would ensure a person was appointed on the grounds of justice, not political correctness.

Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl said he will most likely vote to approve the resolution unless he is convinced otherwise. He said he sees no downside to an eighth member on the committee, though he chose not to nominate anyone.

Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley said he will vote yes on the resolution.

McDavid said the resolution would only apply to the current committee. He said he is not seeking a more permanent solution because that is for future leadership to decide at the time of the next ward reapportionment in 2021.

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