Due to that funny glitch in the city charter, the city council is going through the redistricting process again. Usually the fussing is over the 3rd, 4th and 5th districts with regard to ethnic composition and representation. However, the 2010 census demonstrated without a doubt that north of the river had gained enough population to shove both the first and second council districts north of the river in their entirety. That made it easier to map out the third and fourth in a way that satisfied the concerns of those who feel strongly about ethic issues and elections/candidates. That leaves the fifth and sixth districts.
These are the two maps that are currently being considered by the committee that was formed with regard to redistricting. The bottom one is the one that every body loves--except for the sixth district. You can see that it radically changes the borders of the sixth, running the fifth all the way down to interstates 435/470 east of Holmes Road and runs the western part of the district--the little slice of Kansas City up through Waldo up to about 63rd Street--removing it from the fourth. If you look at it closer, it takes all that potential commercial property on Bannister Road and gives it to the fifth district. It also does quite a bit of violence to the Hickman Mills school district. Councilman John Sharp in particular was very critical of this map. The meeting held October 10 at Baptiste generated quite a large crowd for such a meeting and a second proposed map--the first of the two above.
Now, there is one more city sponsored meeting, October 18th, and a meeting sponsored by the Southern Communities Coalition October 19th. It will be interesting if south Kansas City residents venture to 32nd and Wayne for the October 18th meeting and remember to come out for the SCC meeting the next day.
It is an unfortunate thing that we still feel it necessary to gerrymander by race and class, and that somehow, everyone has bought the idea that we can only be represented by those who look like us. If districts were drawn with just population numbers, geography and neighborhoods in mind, we would not start tearing up neighborhood identities so we can favor certain ethnic identities. There is no easy answer for this, but this map does serve to disrupt the southland's neighborhoods and commercial areas in a way that has the potential to really hurt the area.
Stay tuned, there will be more...