Every decade the U.S. Constitution, under the Voting Rights Act of 1964, mandates that all levels of government, from local to national, redraw their voting districts.
For months, Chris Watson, a certified planner from the Oxford based firm of Bridge and Watson, Inc., has been working for the city to redraw the election wards.
"With the release of the 2010 census, we know that the city of Cleveland's election wards are out of balance," explained Watson. "From the one person, one vote standpoint, the city's variance the way the lines are drawn now is at 46 percent where no more that 10 percent is and acceptable standard of the U.S. Department of Justice.
"What this means is that we have to adjust the population by moving ward line around in an effort to redistribute the population so that we fall within that ten percent," Watson said.
Under his calculations, Ward One, or Alderman Maurice Smith's ward, would have to give up approximately 190 people.
Ward Two, Alderman Robert Sanders' ward, must gain approximately 359 people.
Ward Three, Alderman Danny Abraham's ward, must give up approximately 580 people.
Ward Four, Alderman Kirkham Povall's ward, must give up 113 people.
Ward Five, Alderman Paul Janoush's ward, remains in balance and could be the only one that remains unchanged from the last redistricting.
Ward Six, Alderman Ted Campbell's ward, must gain approximately 341 people.
Under this equation, Watson presented the Board with two maps that would alleviate the city's variance issues.
"We developed an initial redistricting plan and drew the map, titled "Proposed Election Wards" that corrected our population issues," Watson continued.
Alderman Danny Abraham was absent from that initial meeting but had some ideas about the proposed changes.
"If you all recall, we had some discussions with regards to exploring some simple changes to the proposal," he said. "With those discussion came changes, mainly between ward three and ward four, and those are laid out before you in the map entitled 'Alternate No. 1 Proposed Election Wards."
Watson added that based on the discussions that took place, that the 'Alternate No. 1' plan would likely be the best fit for the city.
By recommendation from the city attorney Jamie Jacks, the board decided to move further discussions to executive session.
Mayor Billy Nowell told The Bolivar Commercial this morning that while the board was leaning toward the "Alternate No. I Proposed Plan," they decided to postpone a final decision on which map to choose until a discussion with the city's insurance agent Ned Mitchell as to coverage concerning the decision could be held.
The Bolivar Commercial will have more on the issues as it becomes available.