Residents reshuffled in redistricting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2002

A proposed redistricting plan in Austin could shift 1,055 Second Ward residents into a new ward of the city.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

A proposed redistricting plan in Austin could shift 1,055 Second Ward residents into a new ward of the city.

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Additionally, 609 people will switched to a new precinct within their wards.

The proposal keeps the boundary of the First and Second Wards along Oakland Avenue but would move it down to the Mower County Fairgrounds (Fourth Avenue SW) at 12th Street SW and would continue eight blocks eastward. This would add a four-by-eight block section to the First Ward and 352 people from the Second Ward to the First Ward.

Under the proposed plan, the boundary between the First and Third Wards would continue to follow the Cedar River, but would go west at 19th Avenue NW until Fourth Avenue NW where it would go north to the city limits.

The boundary between the Second and Third Wards would move west to the Cedar River from Fourth Street SE until the river crosses at Main Street. This would move 703 people from the Second Ward to the Third Ward.

City Clerk Lucy Johnson explains the changes were necessary because legally, the city can’t have more than a five percent population variance between the wards. The lines hadn’t been redrawn since 1985 and the 2000 census showed the First Ward has 7,294 people, the Second Ward had 8,980 residents and the Third Ward had 7,040 people. The Second Ward, Johnson points out, had far more people in it than was allowed. "Almost 400 people had to be off," she says. "The First and Third Wards were within that (variance)from each other, but the Second Ward was way off."

The proposed plan would give the First Ward a total of 7,646 people, the Second Ward would have 7,952 people and the Third Ward would contain 7,743 people.

None of these changes will affect city council representation, though Council Member-at-Large Dick Chaffee will move to a different ward. However, Johnson says, "since he is the Council Member-at-Large and represents the entire city, it will not affect him."

"City Council representation wasn’t something we really took into account, but if we had moved a council member from one ward to another, by law that person would have to remain on council until their term expires," Johnson says.

"The law says we have to have a redistricting plan approved by Apr. 30. The state took so long to do their own redistricting that it really put a rush on us. We had these plans but could not go forward with getting them approved because the state took so long," Johnson says.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the council will schedule a public hearing on the proposal for sometime during the next two weeks, so the council can approve a plan by Apr. 30. After the city’s redistricting plan is approved, Mower County can then formulate its own redistricting plan, which must be approved by May 30.

Johnson says where people vote also will be affected by the move of the Pickett Place polling station to the Austin Public Library. She says the Sumner Elementary School polling station may move to Austin High School.


Call Amanda L. Rohde at 434-2214 or e-mail her at