(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A voter-mandated move to re-district city council districts came to a pause today.
Council members did not agree on one plan to consolidate the current five district map down to four, with three council members not in attendance. Three different redistricting options were reviewed, but only two of them could get to an even three yes votes.
"When the citizens' committee recommended and the citizens voted to make four districts, my initial thought was we'd have four-quadrants, you know of pretty close to being equal population," said Mayor Bill McMurray. "But then because we have all the different census tracks, the population is not equally distributed across the city. So, that's the reason we have to make some adjustments on this. The one that's most equal is number three and so that's why I support it."
The current five-district model has been in effect for ten years now, and City Planner Zack Martin presented the council with three detailed proposals during a special session on Tuesday afternoon.
Proposal two was supported by Kent O'Dell, Brenda Blessing and Russell Moore. This particular proposal creates four districts in a quadrant style map separated in the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. Council members in favor of proposal two liked the idea of getting away from the North versus Southside idea. The population difference in each district was a concern for those against, the biggest difference being 16,833 in district one and 20,708 in district two.
Mayor Bill McMurray, Madison Davis and Marty Novak are in favor of proposal three. This proposal divides in four quadrants as well. Quadrant one mainly Northside, quadrants two and three, splitting the downtown and central from east to west, and quadrant four in the Southend. The favoring reason for proposal three was how similar the population was in each district.
City Manager Bryan Carter will receive votes from Gary Roach, PJ Kovac and Brain Myers who were not in attendance. Once those votes are submitted, the selected proposal will be read during the first reading at the next city council meeting in June.
The result in redistricting will allow four district council members and four at-large council members in the upcoming election, along with the Mayor.