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Wichita City Council members have agreed to redraw boundaries for the six current council districts, delaying any discussion on adding or removing them.
A commission of electors that was appointed in July worked to redraw the boundaries for the council districts to make them more equal in population. The map was discussed at a workshop in September.
There were two proposals presented at the workshop for changing the number of council districts. One would eliminate one district and have the mayor and vice-mayor elected at large. The other proposal would add two districts to establish a city council with an at-large mayor and eight council members.
During a special meeting Tuesday, council member Pete Meitzner said having a vice-mayor elected at large would provide a benefit for city-wide issues and the city's representation in Topeka. Council member Jeff Longwell sees some sense in that proposal. He said there should also be consideration of whether to have a full-time city council. Longwell said he believes the city will move in that direction eventually.
Mayor Carl Brewer spoke against the idea of reducing council districts, saying it would hurt the representation of the city's neighborhoods on the council. He said if any changes are to be made to the council bench, it should be to add members and increase representation.
Planning director John Schlegel said there is not enough time left this year to meet the legal requirements for changing charter ordinances to add or remove council members. The deadline from redistricting is Dec. 31. Council members agreed to begin discussions next year with public input on whether to change the number of districts.
In looking at a proposed map for six council districts, Meitzner said his second district was reduced by 4.6 percent, while other districts were not reduced as much. He and council members Lavonta Williams and James Clendenin will meet with city staff to look at adjusting the boundaries for districts one, two and three, and then a final map will be presented to the council next week for approval.
The council districts have to be redrawn every 10 years, based on census numbers, to make sure they are equal in population.