In response to changing population growth indicated by the 2000 census, Madison’s aldermanic districts have been redrawn. However, the only students immediately affected by the redistricting are those in the University Heights area and some Lakeshore university housing residents, now labeled as District 5.
Following with a Wisconsin Elections Board mandate, the city’s redistricting map took effect Jan. 1 in preparation for the District 5 election in April. Although new districts are mapped out for the entire city, no others take effect this year.
The new map essentially moves districts to the west to convey Madison’s population shift. It was drawn in accordance with state law requiring local governments to redistrict every 10 years based on changing U.S. census statistics.
The new district boundary map includes two predominately student districts, down from the previous three.
District 5, which once accommodated a student majority, was redrawn to encompass a greater non-student population.
Ald. Tom Powell, District 5, said the new lines include the University Heights area, a largely upper-middle class neighborhood of family homes, as well as neighborhoods of student housing.
“That’s two completely different constituencies,” Powell said. “One is students and the other is single-family home neighborhoods.”
Powell said the University Heights area has been actively campaigning against student tenants for years–even succeeding in having an ordinance passed that ultimately forbids students from living in the area.
“That’s blatant discrimination against students,” Powell said.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he and fellow aldermen are likely to contact new constituents to let them know they are under new representation.
Dane County revamped
A new county district map is also set to meet Dane County voters at the polls. Knocking the number of districts down from 39 to 37, the new map takes effect when Dane County Board supervisors are sworn into their positions.
Supv. Scott McDonnell, District 4, said the new district lines serve a dual purpose: to decrease the size of the board, which several members perceived as too large, and to reflect the population shift outside the city limits.
The decrease in number of districts reduces student representation on the County Board.
Currently, UW-Madison students comprise the majority of the population of three of the standing districts. The new map removes one heavily student district, leaving the new Districts 5 and 1 as the only predominantly student-populated districts.
McDonnell, who is running unopposed for the District 5 seat, recognized that student influence over the county board would be inherently diminished with the new map.
“If you go from three to two, that’s bad,” McDonnell said.
However, McDonnell said he feels student representation will remain viable because both he and Sup. Echnaton Vedder, District 8, have served multiple terms on the board and are able to obtain better committee assignments and exert substantial influence over board action.
“I think students will make out better now than they did in the past with three districts,” McDonnell said.
Vedder, whose re-election campaign is challenged by Ion Skillrud, said he also thinks that students will still receive adequate representation on the board.
“[Redistricting] has a pretty strong impact on student representation,” Vedder said. “On the positive side, Scott and I have a good amount of influence because there are a lot of freshmen on the board. In the near future, student representation will be strong.”