St. Paul’s City Charter Commission Seeks to Dismantle Downtown and East Side Neighborhoods – Twin Cities
As a result of the redistricting, could an East Sider like Jane Prince, who represents Ward 7 on the St. Paul City Council and lives in Dayton’s Bluff, suddenly wake up in Ward 2, which is currently represented by Rebecca Noecker?
It’s a question the city’s 13-member charter commission is expected to dodge completely as it hastily considers redrawing ward boundaries before the end of the month. The goal is for the new ward lines to be completed on paper, submitted to City Council and approved by the March 29 statutory deadline.
“There are standards that guide the Charter Commission when redrawing wards, and one of them is population equality,” said St. Paul’s Charter Commission Chairman Brian Alton. , which encourages the public to attend several hearings this month on ward redistricting. “Another is that… the residence of outgoing council members should not be used to determine new ward boundaries.”
Alton acknowledged the timeline is fast — proposed ward boundary maps were still not publicly available Thursday — but the city’s charter commission waited for redrawn state legislative districts and new boundaries. of the enclosure are finalized before digging. process,” he said.
“AS EQUAL AS PRACTICAL”
At St. Paul’s City Hall, a group of 13 volunteers are struggling with a population problem and are trying to beat the clock to make it happen.
Each of the city’s seven political wards is represented by a different member of the city council, and each ward must be roughly the same size in terms of membership. According to the latest US censuses, at least three neighborhoods are too big.
By the end of the month, members of the St. Paul’s Charter Commission will likely shrink Ward 2, possibly moving its northern boundary farther south, and make similar adjustments to Wards 6 and 7 on the east side of the city. town. These neighborhoods are each home to at least 45,500–46,600 residents, while the city of approximately 311,000 people averages more than 44,500 residents per neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Ward 1 (Frogtown, Summit-University, Lexington-Hamline, Snelling-Hamline, Union Park) and Ward 3 (Mac-Groveland, Highland Park) fall below the neighborhood average of around 1,200 to 1,500 residents, according to the 2020 decennial census count.
The overall goal of the state law is to redraw ward boundaries so that all seven wards are “as equal as possible,” which the city council has interpreted to mean being within 1% of the population. target (44,500). For practical reasons, this represents a margin of maneuver of more or less 450 people.
Prince said she was watching the work of the charter commission with interest, but could not predict where the new ward lines would fall.
“I think cutting off part of the East Side and putting it downtown doesn’t help people on the East Side,” Prince said Thursday. “It would give them less representation and set back all the work that we’re trying to do in terms of recovery in that part of town.”
The Charter Commission’s redistricting committee met Friday at St. Paul’s City Hall for its first review of current and proposed ward boundaries, as prepared by consultants Park Street Public.
Those maps could be posted online next week, in time for a public hearing at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the city council chambers. Another public hearing will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at the Rondo Library, 461 Dale St. N.
A third hearing, which will be followed by a Charter Committee vote on redistricting, will be held at 3 p.m. on March 16 in Room 40 at St. Paul’s City Hall. The city council is expected to vote on the new ward boundaries by March 23.
Once the town is completed, Ramsey County will redraw its own ward boundaries, a process that could impact the county’s seven-member council.
More information is online at the city’s redistricting site, stpaul.gov/department/city-council/redistricting.