Mission redistricting plan moves forward on mayor’s tie-breaking vote

What has turned out to be a controversial redistricting of city council wards in Mission barely survived moving to the public hearing stage with Mayor Laura McConwell casting a vote to break a tie in the city council.

Map_fourThis is the second time that the same proposal has come to the council. Last December a majority of council members voted to table the recommended ward map rather than set it for a public hearing. The redistricting committee met again this fall and came back with the same recommendation.

The redistricting work had been initiated because the city’s current four wards are beyond what is considered an acceptable population deviation. Ward 1 exceeds the average by more than 25 percent and Ward 2 is under the average by more than 19 percent. The redistricting committee was attempting to find a boundary solution that did not show a deviation of plus or minus five percent and kept council members in their current wards, which its proposal does.

Two primary objections have been raised in council discussions: that the new map uses population projections from residential developments at the East and West Gateway projects and that the former municipality of Countryside, now part of Mission, is being moved from Ward 4 into Ward 2.

Those criticisms date back to the first review by a council committee nearly a year ago. The newest attempt to redistrict has gained urgency because one council seat in each ward is up for election in early 2014 and the filing period begins in December.

Wednesday, Councilors Lawrence Andre, Amy Miller, Jennifer Cowdry and Suzie Gibbs all voted against moving the recommendation forward before the mayor’s tie-breaking vote. Seven people spoke before the council at the subsequent public hearing, most raising the same concerns about Countryside and the use of projected new residents in the maps. At least two speakers, though, said the new map accomplished its goals and should be approved.