COLUMBIA —Ward Reapportionment Committee chairman Bob Pugh thought the process would be simple.
“I’d be just a mapmaker and draw some lines, look at the population and I’m done. I’d be out of here in 24 hours,” Pugh said as he closed Wednesday’s public hearing. The committee held the hearing to get feedback on the five trial maps under consideration for new ward boundaries.
The reapportionment process that began in May is now nearing its conclusion. The committee still has five maps under consideration, and Trials B and E proved the most popular with those in attendance Wednesday.
Dan Cullimore, a resident of the First Ward, said Trial E "does the least damage to the fewest neighborhoods and balances the population most simply." Trial E, proposed by committee member Colleen Coble, would move the First Ward westward.
Park DeVille neighborhood resident Mary Ratliff opposed Trial E, saying it would be a "total disruption" because the trial would separate two residences from the neighborhood association.
Those attending did not favor Trials D and F, either. Jeanette Jackson-Thompson, vice president of the Park Hill Improvement Association, said Trial D could negatively effect the First Ward by moving precincts with high voter turnouts into areas with lower voter turnouts.
Trial F, which creates two central city districts, violates most of the committee guidelines, such as displacing council members and dividing neighborhood associations, according to a chart distributed by city officials at the meeting.
A citizen-generated map, now known as Trial J, was also discussed, but it has not been designated by the committee as an official trial. Similar to Trial E, the First Ward would be moved west. In Trial J, the western boundary of the First Ward would extend to Perche Creek.
The committee will meet again Monday to discuss the public hearing and the five trials before sending its recommendation to the Columbia City Council by Sept. 15.