Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kansas City Redistricting: Now or Later?


By Andrea Wood 
Kansas City is in the process of re-drawing the boundaries for its six council districts to make each district approximately the same size--around 80,383 people each.

But as public input is being gathered on proposed changes, a majority of the city council is working to change when redistricting would take place, while the mayor is halting their attempt.

Currently proposed maps show that the city’s 6th District would need to slightly increase its geographic size in order to reach the balanced population target (see map below).

“From the looks of recent DRAFT maps and discussions from the Redistricting committee, the 6th district is needing to add approximately 5,316 people,” said Jade Liska, a manager in the City Planning Department. “A basic enlargement of 6th District could be an area near and around 85th street and Troost/Woodland (SW corner of 5th District).”

Kansas City’s current charter states that redistricting should be completed before the city’s next general election, which is in March. Given that timeline, the council would vote on the proposed changes in the next month or so, said Liska.

However, on Thursday by an 8-5 vote, the council voted to seek a court order that would put a measure on the November ballot changing the way City Hall draws voting districts as the city’s population changes.

Sixth District Councilman John Sharp, who proposed the change, argued that it makes more sense for the city to wait until the official 2010 census numbers are released before it does its redistricting. He proposed that the city redistrict once every 10 years--after the federal census.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser argued that delaying redistricting disenfranchises tens of thousands of voters in the Northland, which has grown substantially in the past 10 years. He said that the city’s constitution requires that voting districts have populations within 10% of each other, but two districts currently differ by almost 30%.

On August 30th, Mayor Funkhouser officially vetoed the council’s ordinance seeking to put the redistricting issue on the November ballot.

Meanwhile, public input on the proposed boundary changes are ongoing.

A public meeting is scheduled for today, Sept. 2, from 4-6pm at the Kansas City North Community Center, 3930 NE Antioch Road. Another meeting is planned for Sept. 8th, 6-8 p.m. at the Gregg/Klice Community Center,1600 John “Buck” O’Neil Way.

For more info, call 816-513-0651, or see the proposed maps on the city’s website at www.kcmo.org.

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