City officials said student representation on Madison’s City Council could become more consolidated if redistricting efforts extend a student-heavy district further west.
Members of the city’s Ad Hoc Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee delved further into drawing revised aldermanic districts after the 2010 Census found Madison’s population had risen to approximately 233,000.
Currently, most UW student representation is split between alders in District 8 and District 4. District 8 includes most of the UW campus, most residence halls and some fraternities. District 4 is home to most downtown housing on Mifflin Street, Dayton Street and West Gorham Street.
Many students living on the city’s near east side also live in Ald. Bridget Maniaci’s District 2, which under some redistricting plans would extend further northeast to the near Maple Bluff, changing the makeup of the district. Other student-heavy districts are District 13 and District 5, currently represented by Alders Julia Kerr and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, respectively.
Bidar-Sielaff said she believed many of the drafted plans would move many University of Wisconsin students into District 8, soon to be represented by recent UW graduate Scott Resnick.
“I do feel that putting [students] together…segregates all students into District 8 and has one alder carry all of that weight and their advocacy,” Bidar-Sielaff said.
The City Council had previously set unofficial requirements that the committee maintain one student-heavy district and one downtown district, said Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12.
So far, the committee has considered eight redistricting plans, one of which city resident Gene Hahn introduced.
In Hahn’s plan, far west side aldermanic districts would be drawn horizontally, stacking Districts 19, 9, 1 and 7 in succession from Lake Mendota to past the Beltline Highway on the city’s south side.
Hahn’s plan also would include the Eagle Heights neighborhood and Picnic Point in District 8, while extending Bidar-Sielaff’s district further south, wrapping around Lake Wingra.
“What has changed in the last 10 years is the shift west in population,” Hahn said. “You push almost a complete aldermanic district off to the west.”
However, many of the plans would split the representation of many neighborhood associations – an issue some committee members said might create problems.
Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3, said some neighborhood associations could accept a split easily, while other newly-formed or fledgling associations should be considered when drafting new boundaries.
“I think we need to identify the [neighborhoods]…that to move them or to split them could kill them or could dramatically change their complexion,” Cnare said.
The committee is scheduled to meet April 27 to further discuss the student representation and neighborhood association issues. Rhodes-Conway said the committee will maintain a non-political approach to the redistricting and instead focus on including accurate representations for minorities and other communities of interests in the new districts.
“It’s our responsibility to create a map that works for the city based on the criteria that we’ve chosen,” she said. “This is about who’s going to be on the council for the next 10 years, not who’s on the council now.”
The print and online versions of this article incorrectly stated Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway represents District 13 and Ald. Lauren Cnare represents District 2. Rhodes-Conway represents District 12, while Cnare represents District 3. We regret the error.