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Council Approves Redistricting Plan

Hyattsville's political boundaries to be redrawn.

The Hyattsville City Council approved a new redistricting plan which slightly redraws the city's council wards. In the process, the city council chose a plan which will ward in Ward 4, where Hispanics will make up 50 percent of its residents. 

The redistricting plan will appear before council for one last vote sometime in the near future. The measure now goes to City Attorney Richard Colaresi who will draft a formal charter amendment formally outlining the city's new political boundaries. 

During debate at a special city council session on Wednesday to discuss redistricting, council members dabbled with the idea of altering the city's ward structure. Council members Shani Warner (Ward 2), Candace Hollingsworth (Ward 1), Eric Winguard (Ward 2) and Council President Matt McKnight (Ward 3), all said that they preferred redistricting option 7,

"I think it would strengthen us to have a fewer number of wards, I think," said Warner during debate. She argued, as did others in favor of alternate ward structures, that reducing the number of wards, and thus council members, would make it easier for the city council to legislate. "I know there are a lot of people out there who are fomenting who really really want to see less wards."

Hollingsworth added that reducing the number of city council members also made fiscal sense. 

"If we just talk dollars and cents, it's cheaper as a small council," said Hollingsworth.

However, Hunt said that he has not heard his constituents complain about the number of city council members. 

"Just haven't gotten the sense that there's really a lot of support for that idea," said Hunt. "I kind of take redistricting and the number of wards that residents want for there city as two different ideas."

Lacking enough support for the alternate ward structure proposals, Hunt moved that the city council adopt redistricting option 2B. 

Unlike some of the other plans, 2B does not unseat any incumbents, avoiding the need for special elections to sort out ward representation after a redistricting takes place. It also creates a Hispanic minority-opportunity ward in Ward 4, which would have a 50 percent hispanic population. 

Councilor Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) said she liked how Option 2B extended her ward across Hamilton Street. 

"It gives us several more blocks of resident homes," said Frazier. "Since the last census, Ward 5 has had mostly apartments and businesses, and it's very apparent that residents of apartments are transient. God forbid I'm not putting them down, but the don't seem to get as involved as resident homeowners."

Council Vice President David Hiles said that he liked option 2B because it made Ward 2 bridge Queens Chapel Road. 

"I think that would make it a more interesting district to represent," said Hiles. "It would make Ward 2 representatives have to think a little more broadly."

Hunt's motion in favor of option 2B passed by a vote of 6-1, with Hollingsworth voting against. Councilors Nicole Hinds Mofor (Ward 5) and Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4) were absent.

Nick May 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Drawing districts on the basis of race is illegal.
Michael Theis May 04, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Except that it isn't, as long as districts are compact and contiguous. In this case they are.
Shani May 04, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Odd that someone would repeat this erroneous claim about the illegality of taking race into account when redistricting, after Michael Theis spent the time to thoughtfully respond to this person's previous and identical comment on April 19. Here's the link: http://hyattsville.patch.com/articles/2b-or-not-2b-council-debates-redistricting
Matthew D. McKnight May 04, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Michael, note that plan 7 would have reduced the number of Wards from 5 to 4 (not 5 to 6)...an overall council of 8 plus the mayor, rather than 10 plus mayor. Matt M.
Michael Theis May 04, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Oh lord. That's embarrassing. I'll go in and fix that now.
Scott Matirne May 04, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Michael, also note that Eric Wingard's name is misspelled (Winguard) and he represents Ward 1 rather than Ward 2. Great article though. Scott Matirne
Jim Groves May 04, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Well, at least it's done. What I didn't see in here, and I'm embarassed I did not make it to a council meeting to discuss, is if the Ward Boundaries are still down the middle of street? For exmaple, on part of Oglethorpe, one side will be in Ward 2 and the other in Ward 3. It's not that big of a deal other than it's confusing. I remember when I ran for City Council how much of a pain that was! Walking all the way up one street and not being able to hit the other side back down. Anyhow, would have like to have seen less Wards, but whatever. Actually would have preferred no Wards whatsoever. If you run, you represent ALL of Hyattsville, not just a segment of it (yes, of course CCM's represent all of Hyattsville, but you know what I mean).

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