City Council Decides Redistricting Map

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COLUMBIA- The Columbia City Council voted Monday to adopt Trial E as the city's new ward map.

The trial passed 6-1.

The new map will see Columbia's First, or Central, Ward expanded farther to the west and the Second Ward.

Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe praised the move, saying it was the fairest plan and disturbs the least amount of local neighborhoods.

But the decision did not come without last second controversy, as Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl urged the council to approve none of the proposed trials.

Only minutes later, embattled Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley received an impassioned defense from Fifth Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill.

Thornhill blasted those residents who had called for Dudley's immediate recall after he presented an amended redistricting map which cut a deep chunk out of the Fourth Ward.

Dudley defended his actions, assuring his dissenters that there was no political motive behind his decision.

Monday's vote comes after months of prolonged and heated debate, with local neighborhood associations and city adminstrators locking horns over as many as five different redistriciting maps.

Accusations of legislative gerrymandering from angered neighborhood leaders clashed with lawmakers' pleas that the map's main purpose was to balance out the citywide population.

During the summer, city administrators put together a group of Columbia leaders from different fields to create various trials.  That group presented recommendations to the council in September, but a decision was delayed until mid-October.

By law, every ten years--after the U.S. Census is taken--Columbia's ward structure must be redrawn to reflect population shifts.  Each ward will now have roughly 18,000 residents.

According to U.S. Census numbers released to the city, a total of 108,500 people live in Columbia.