Wichita City Council to examine proposed redistricting plans

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday will get its first look at what new council districts might look like.

During a workshop, a citizen panel will unveil its attempt to balance out the population of the city’s six council districts, a process required by ordinance every 10 years.

The city’s redistricting ordinance requires that “reasonably compact areas in each district are maintained” to avoid gerrymandering, said planning director John Schlegel, who headed the citizen panel that studied redistricting. Election precincts set up by the Sedgwick County election commissioner also must be followed.

City ordinances require that approximately one-sixth of the city’s total population — 63,728 people, or a sixth of the city’s 382,368 population, based on the 2010 Census — be allocated within each district, with no district deviating more than 5 percent from that number.

The fate of the proposed map now falls to the council.

“The (group) makes a recommendation and the council has until the end of the year to finalize it and the council could tweak it themselves,” Schlegel said.

The proposed map adds almost 2,000 residents to James Clendenin’s southeast Wichita District 3. It adds almost 1,900 residents to Vice Mayor Janet Miller’s central-west District 6. It also adds a substantial chunk of west Wichita to council member Michael O’Donnell’s District 4, adding a little more than 1,000 new residents.

Pete Meitzner’s District 2 lost almost 3,000 residents, and Lavonta Williams’ District 1 lost more than 1,600 residents under the redistricting plan.

Meitzner said Friday that he’s bothered by the citizen panel’s charge to make recommendations while predicting future growth districts. Meitzner’s district is one predicted to grow over the next decade, as is Jeff Longwell’s northwest Wichita District 5.

“Who really knows where we’re going to grow at this point?” Meitzner asked.

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