Redistricting Schemes Change Council Structure

Revisions to proposed Hyattsville redistricting schemes sees options which modify the number of city wards.

Hyattsville's Redistricting Committee will present four new redistricting plans to the City Council on Monday, including two plans which would change the number of political wards in the city. One new plan calls for six wards, the other calls for four wards. 

The revisions to their were motivated by feedback from City Council members and Hyattsville residents, according to a memo outlining the revised redistricting schemes. 

"Our rationales for redrawing the ward boundaries have not changed," wrote Redistricting Committee Chair David Rain in the memo. "They remain answering the need to provide districts of equal population size, creating contiguous and compact wards with relatively smooth boundaries, and protecting a Hispanic community of interest in West Hyattsville by creating a “minority opportunity ward” with at least a 50 percent Hispanic population 

, according to the census. The city added about 3,500 residents to its population, growing from roughly 14,000 residents to roughly 17,500 residents.

In that time, Hyattsville's Hispanic population increased from 2,670 residents to 5,970, most of that growth in West Hyattsville in Ward 4 and Ward 3.

The revised redistricting proposals actually remove as many options from the table as are presented. Rain's committe eliminated four options (1, 1a, 2 and 4) on the grounds that they either required a dramatic reshuffling of incumbent council members or did not include Hispanic minority-opportunity wards.

also said that the revised options presented kept populations on the low end where possible to account for future population growth. 

While the memo did not include renderings of the proposed new redistricting schemes, it did include brief written summaries. 

New scenario 2b makes adjustments to Ward 4 which brings that ward's Hispanic population to 50 percent, meeting the minority-opportunity ward requirements.

Scenario 5, also new, creates a Ward 4 with a 52.2 percent Hispanic population, while displacing incumbent Councilor Matt McKnight from Ward 3 to Ward 2, placing him in the same ward as council members Shani Warner and David Hiles.

Heeding a call for options which would change the number of wards in the city, the Redistricting Committee also returned with two proposals which change the number of wards in the city.

Scenario 6 creates a six ward configuration with a 53.8 percent Hispanic Ward 4. The new Ward 6 would span Queens Chapel Road in present day Ward 4. This plan displaces Councilor McKnight from Ward 3 to Ward 6 and Councilor Eric Wingard from Ward 1 to Ward 2. Each ward would have a target population of about 2,926. 

Scenario 7 lays out a four ward proposal, with a 52.1 percent Hispanic Ward 4. This proposal displaces Councilor Nicole Hinds Mofor and Councilor Ruth Ann Frazier from Ward 5 to Ward 2. Councilor Hiles would be redistricted from Ward 2 to Ward 1, and Councilor McKnight would be redistricted from Ward 3 to Ward 1. 

"Achieving a balance among the various citeria continues to require trade-offs and discussion among the City Council," wrote Rain. "We are confident in presenting the scenarios that the full range of options has been duly considered."

Changing the number of wards in Hyattsville would require an amendment to the city charter. 

Scurvy April 09, 2012 at 08:52 PM
If we go to six districts will they now only have one rep per ward? Or will we try to rival Baltimore with 12 members?
Michael Theis April 09, 2012 at 09:17 PM
The simple answer is yes - if the City Council decides to expand to six wards, the charter provisions which lay out Hyattsville's two-council member wards would still be in effect, raising the number of city council members to 12 plus a mayor. The more complicated answer is that the redistricting committee is only charged with redrawing the city's wards so that the populations are as equal as possible between them. The number of city council members per ward would be taken up as a separate council discussion which could or could not accompany changes to the city's ward structure proposed by the redistricting committee.
Michael Theis April 09, 2012 at 09:18 PM
And a brief addendum to my reply: So in theory, the City Council could expand to six wards, but it would take a separate motion to change the number of city council members per ward.
Nick April 17, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Drawing districts on the basis of race is unconstitutional.


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