To suggest, as Columbia Daily Tribune Editor Hank Waters recently has, that reapportionment occurs in a political vacuum is as uninformed as it is disingenuous.
The guidelines specified by the Columbia City Council resolution that established the Ward Reapportionment Committee stipulates three principles, presumably in order of importance:
- 1. Achieve ward equality “in population,”
- 2. Best serve “the needs of existing neighborhoods,” i.e., neighborhood integrity, and
- 3. Maintain the “contiguity of neighborhoods.”
Compactness, though perhaps a desirable outcome, is not a requirement — contiguity is.
With respect to a 2010 census target of 18,083, Ward 1 is the smallest (minus 25 percent variance), Ward 2 is the largest (plus 18 percent), Ward 4 is the second-smallest (minus 12 percent), Ward 5 is the second-largest (plus 9 percent), Ward 6 is next (plus 7 percent), and Ward 3 is the closest to ideal (plus 3 percent).
The simplest solution: To achieve population parity, add to Ward 1 from Ward 2, and add to Ward 4 from Ward 5. Leave Ward 3 and Ward 6 as is. Plan B comes closest to that solution.
Another compelling public argument is that Plan B alone offers a future possibility of expanding Ward 1 beyond current city limits by extending its boundaries northward.
Apart from the primary goal of reapportionment to balance the population changes, other representational aspects may be considered, but not selectively. If all representational aspects are considered, then “diversity” (of density, land use, infrastructure, etc.), and not “homogeneity,” ought to be encouraged within all wards as a means to provide representational balance.
Karl Skala is a Columbia resident.