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Columbia's Ward Reapportionment Committee prepares plans for City Council

Monday, September 12, 2011 | 8:38 p.m. CDT; updated 7:46 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 13, 2011

COLUMBIA — Trial E, a proposal that would expand the city's First Ward to the west, was the only trial to receive a favorable vote from the Ward Reapportionment Committee at its meeting Monday.

All the trials will be presented to the City Council in a report committee chairman Bob Pugh plans to prepare.

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Pugh's report will include all five maps, census data, information about how committee members voted on each trial and written comments from Pugh regarding the public hearings and the thoughts of the committee.

Pugh encouraged committee members to vote on each trial separately, rather than vote for a single reapportionment map.

Here's how the trials fared in the committee vote:

  • Trial A: Pugh, no; Eugene Gerke, yes; Rob Monsees, no; Colleen Coble, no; Michelle Gadbois, no; Wiley Miller, no; Scott Atkins, yes; Terry Smith, no. The trial received a 2-6 no vote.
  • Trial B: Pugh, no; Gerke, no; Monsees, no; Coble, no; Gadbois, yes; Miller, yes; Atkins, no; Smith, no. The trial received a 2-6 no vote.
  • Trial D: Pugh, yes; Gerke, yes; Monsees, yes; Coble, no; Gadbois, no; Miller, no; Atkins, yes; Smith, no. The trial received the only tie vote of 4-4.
  • Trial E: Pugh, yes; Gerke, no; Monsees, no; Coble, yes; Gadbois, yes; Miller, yes; Atkins, no; Smith, yes. The trial received the only yes vote of 5-3.
  • Trial F: A unanimous no from all committee members, including Smith, who originally proposed this map. Smith noted that the map would be worth considering again in several years as Columbia continues to grow and change.
  • Trial J: A citizen-generated plan, similar to Trial E. The committee didn't vote on this trial because it is unofficial.

Pugh called Trial E, proposed by Coble, the "simplest to understand and probably the simplest to defend." This map, which would expand the central First Ward toward the west, was well received at the last public hearing. Trial E would leave the First Ward bordered on all sides by other wards.

Coble said she was dismayed by the tie vote on Trial D, proposed by Monsees, because many people spoke against it at the public hearings. Trial D would take progressive voting precincts away from the Third and Fourth wards and place them in the First. Opponents worried it would dilute minority representation in the First Ward and give more conservative candidates for City Council an advantage in other wards.

Coble said she was didn't understand why the committee spent the summer "gaining input from the community and really listening" in order to give four yes votes to a plan rejected at public hearings.

Gadbois agreed, saying residents who came out to speak against Trial D might feel the hearings were for "formality's sake."

Wiley Miller, who was appointed as a member at large after there were allegations that the reapportionment committee lacked diversity, said he had not met any African-American citizens supportive of Trial D.

"They all look at map D and say, 'No, no, no,' he said.

Trial F, which Pugh said was "fatally flawed" because it violated the committee's requirement that no incumbent council member be drawn out of his or her ward, was a clear loser. Smith, who proposed it, hoped it would be considered in the future but felt it was not realistic this year. He did not vote for his own map, and it was unanimously defeated.

Several committee members praised Pugh for his leadership and policy of openness about the process.

Once Pugh delivers his report, it will be up to the council to decide how the wards will be redrawn.


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