Reapportionment Committee Unveils Three Proposals at Public Hearing

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COLUMBIA - Residents from multiple city wards filled city hall for a public hearing Thursday to discuss three proposals for redistricting, set forth by the Ward Reapportionment Committee.

The committee must redraw the ward boundaries because of rapid population growth during the past decade. The proposals, known as Trial A, Trial B and Trial D, would affect all wards, but the first three wards would see the most significant changes. Under Trial A, the First Ward would extend both west and east, and it would shift the Benton-Stephens neighborhood from the Third Ward. Trial B would extend the First Ward north of Interstate-70, and Trial D would extend the boundaries south into the Fourth Ward.

Leaders from the Benton-Stephens neighborhood were vocal about their desire to stay in the Third Ward. Kip Kendrick, president of the neighborhood association, said a move would hurt diversity and destroy the Third Ward's connection with downtown. He also said the population is already on par with the council's target of about 18,000 people per ward.

"There is no numerical reason to move any boundaries on Ward Three," Kendrick said. "Ward Three actually fits the criteria, and meets the target population better than any other ward."

At one point during the meeting, Kendrick took an informal poll of the audience, asking how many people supported the alternative Trial B. By his count, 52 people raised their hands.

There were also opponents to Trial B in the audience, though. One resident from the Second Ward lives told the council her neighborhood north of the interstate has no connection to the downtown area in the First Ward.

The committee must submit a final proposal to the city council by September 15th.