City Council ward lines, redrawn using 2010 census data, have been submitted for approval by the East Central Intergovernmental Association. The new ward lines will have to be approved at the city and the Iowa Secretary of State before going into effect. The deadline for having the new ward boundaries finalized is Sept. 1.
Jake Ironside, GIS specialist for ECIA, helped design the new boundaries.
“I tried to match the current (lines) as closely as possible,” Ironside said. “I had to alter the boundaries a little bit, (but) nothing real significant.”
Ironside began the process by taking the total population and dividing it by four, giving him an ideal ward size in terms of population. Then, using Geographic Information Systems software, he was able to divide up the city using streets as boundaries.
Each ward will have about 6,700 residents, and will be divided into two precincts. Precincts, while geographically dissimilar, will have nearly equal populations.
Ironside said that impartiality is required by law when dividing up city wards. He was not allowed to consider whether the new ward lines would move a City Council member out of his or her current ward.
Though all current council members representing a specific ward will remain in their respective wards if the new lines are adopted, Second Ward Council Member Mike Kearney came close to finding himself displaced. A resident of Fifth Avenue South, Kearney lives right on the line between the First and Second wards. In fact, if he lived across the street, he would be in the First Ward, currently represented on the council by Maggie Klaes.
Kearney said he was not surprised to see the new lines move him so close to a different ward. The HyVee, Archer Daniels Midland and Liberty Square developments have drastically altered the population in the First Ward.
“That adds up to a fair shift in population,” Kearney said. “It was almost inevitable that ward boundaries would shift north.”
According to Kearney, the biggest shift will happen in the First and Second wards. Everything west of 32nd Street will be transferred from the Second Ward into the First Ward, assuming the new lines are adopted. Changes to the Third and Fourth wards’ boundaries will be small.
Though the shift means a change in representation for some, Kearney said he is pleased to remain where he is.
“I’m still in the Second Ward and will be for the next decade,” Kearney said.
A public hearing will be held regarding the lines at the Aug. 9 meeting of the City Council. Kearney said he believed the first reading of the proposal could be held at the next council meeting. An new ordinance would be required before the new boundaries go into effect.