The guidelines specified by the City Council Resolution that established the Ward Reapportionment Committee stipulate three principles (presumably in order of importance):
- Achieve ward equality “in population.”
- Best serve “the needs of existing neighborhoods,” i.e., neighborhood integrity.
- Maintain the “contiguity of neighborhoods.” Compactness is a desirable outcome but is subjective — contiguity is a requirement.
With respect to a 2010 census target of 18,083, Ward 1 is the smallest (-25 percent variance), Ward 2 is the largest (+18 percent), Ward 4 is the second smallest (-12 percent), Ward 5 is the second largest (+9 percent), Ward 6 is next (+7 percent) and Ward 3 is the closest to ideal (+3 percent).
The simplest solution: To achieve population parity and to minimize ward boundary changes, add to Ward 1 from Ward 2, and add to Ward 4 from Ward 5. Leave Ward 3 and Ward 6 as is.
This approach respects all three principles in the council’s resolution guidelines.
In addition to the primary goal of balancing the population changes with the least disruption, other representational aspects can be considered, but not selectively. If all are considered, then “diversity” (i.e., of race, density, land use, infrastructure, etc.) and not “homogeneity” ought to be encouraged within all wards as a means to provide representational integrity and balance.
Both Trial B and Trial E come closest to the simplest solution.
Trial E has the additional advantages of overwhelming community support and is the only plan to receive a majority vote from the council’s Ward Reapportionment Committee.
Trial E has also received the endorsement of Columbia Tribune editor, Henry J. Waters, Jr. who said in a Sept. 30 editorial:
“This political baggage [gerrymandering] gives the council good reason to reject Trial D for a better option.”
That better option is Trial E, and I would urge you to adopt it.
Karl Skala is a former member of the City Council from the Third Ward.