COLUMBIA – Some neighborhood associations in Columbia are disappointed in the tie vote Trial D received at Monday night's Ward Reapportionment Committee meeting. The committee discussed all five proposed trials.
Kip Kendrick, president of the Benton-Stephens Neighborhood Association, was “surprised” by the committee's split vote on Trial D.
Kendrick had spoken against the movement of Benton-Stephens out of the Third Ward at a public hearing earlier this summer. Despite the resistance to Trial D by the public, the trial still has the support of four committee members.
Currently, the Third Ward fits the population level the committee is trying to achieve in all wards by reapportioning. There is “no reason to make this difficult,” Kendrick said of Trial D.
Trial D has been criticized because the movement of politically involved voters from the Third and Fourth Wards into the First may dilute the power of minority voters in the central city.
Trial E had the only positive vote from the committee. This trial moves the First Ward west to Silvey Street but not to the border of Columbia. It does not displace incumbent Second Ward councilman Jason Thornhill in keeping with the committee's incumbency requirement.
Phillip Christensen, vice chair of the Worley Street Park Neighborhood Association, created a map that is now referred to as Trial J.
This trial is a citizen-initiated map that would move the First Ward west all the way to the city limits. Currently, the First Ward is the only one that does not touch a city border. This map is similar to Trial E in that it moves the First Ward west without expanding it east.
Pat Fowler, board president of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association, said that although she prefers Trial J’s expansion of the First Ward to the city limits, Trial E is the “best of the options that the committee will officially recognize.”
Trial J was discussed at the meeting, but the committee did not vote on it. However, Christensen said that Trial E “accomplishes many of the goals we had with Trial J.”
Christensen was “disappointed” by the committee's split vote on Trial D. He said the “decision on that proposal doesn't reflect the public comment they heard.”
The North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association will discuss the Ward Reapportionment at their monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Dulaney Hall of Columbia College.
The committee will present a report prepared by chairman Bob Pugh to the City Council on Monday. The report will include all five trials, the committees votes, public response and census data.