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Consultants find redistricting inevitable . . . but not now

MADISON – Madison City Council listened to the redistricting proposal from a consulting firm on Sept. 27. While redistricting is inevitable, council will wait for conclusions of a city advisory group, the Governance Transition Team.

Mike Slaughter with consultants Slaughter& Associates of Oxford, Miss., reported on his primary task to determine if the city’s current district configuration is in legal compliance. (saplanners.com) The statistics from the 2020 Census, which places Madison with more than 56,000 residents, serve as the basis of all discussions.

“The main purpose of redistricting is the one-person/one-vote principle. In the City of Madison, we take the total population of Madison and divide by seven,” Slaughter said. Slaughter also worked with the city on redistricting in 2000 and 2010. The full-service firm for urban planning has 30-plus years of experience in civil engineering and municipal finance with clients in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee.

“We’ll be slightly over in some districts, slightly less in others. We’d like to keep (the deviation) at five percent,” Slaughter said (from video courtesy of I Vote Madison — ivotemadison.com, Facebook, Instagram). A city must consider redistricting because of annexation of large parcels of property or a significant change in population, based on the U.S. Census.

Ideally, a city would divide its population by the number of council districts, and each district would have the same number of residents. In reality, districts can never have identical populations.

City Council delayed any decisions about redistricting until the new group, Madison Governance Transition Team, recommends the optimum form of government model for the city. Mayor Paul Finley formed the governance team to assist City Council in fact finding about the type of city government that will best suit Madison’s needs.

Madison Governance Transition Team members are Beth Richardson, Cecilia Showalter, James Ross, Arthur Brackett, Taylor Edge, Mike Oliver and Roseanna Cox. The team’s deadline to return report results to City Council is Dec. 31, 2021.

If Madison changes to a city manager model, City Council will shift from seven districts to six with the mayor gaining a vote on decisions. The mayor would not handle the day-to-day operations of the city.

The Madison Governance Transition Team will consider if Madison should adopt staggered terms for City Council and Mayor. With staggered terms, all eight elected officials will not run at the same time.

In 2015, a similar group studied city issues and talked with municipal officials across the state to recommend the best form of government for Madison. The Governance Transition Team will update those findings.

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