COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For the first time in the city’s history, Columbus is going to have city council districts.
After months of work, presentations, and discussions, residents now know what those districts will look like, and this will determine which parts of the city future council members will represent.
There were three maps to choose from and the council made its decision after about a 30-minute discussion Monday during its last meeting of the year.
“At the core of council districts, this change will make Columbus City Council more representative of our city population,” said councilmember Emmanuel Remy.
City council unanimously approved what’s known as Map A. The three options were developed by the citizen-led Council Residential Districting Commission (CRDC). Like the other proposals, Map A creates nine council districts, each district consisting of between 100,000 and 101,000 residents.
“The CRDC maps do not create separation,” Remy said. “Thye create lines of collaboration, opportunity, and connection.”
Columbus residents voted in 2018 to add two additional seats to the city council and create residential districts in which council members must live.
Described as a North-South map, the Map A districts are organized from North to South, taking into account area commission and Columbus community boundaries. Presented in the second round of map drafts, this map was edited slightly before being part of the final slate of options. The edits were made specifically to the Graceland and Clintonville areas, based on resident feedback.
Before voting on the proposals, several city council members said no map will be perfect. Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said one of the main goals is to improve geographic representation on the council.
“We have to remember and had to be really clear, these council members, even if they live in your district, will represent every city resident,” Hardin said.
Two seats are being added to the city council. Each member will have to live in the district they represent, but elections will continue to be citywide, so voters will vote to pick every council member. The new districts will be in effect for the 2023 election when all seats will be up for grabs.
“It lets the citizens know where to start, so of course, they’re going to have nine members to call and advocate on their behalf, but this gives them an opportunity and a place to start,” Remy said.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
- Council is also voting on a $5.75 million settlement between 32 protesters and the city.
The protesters said Columbus police hurt them physically and mentally while they were peacefully demonstrating after the murder of George Floyd. Some also claimed they were wrongfully arrested during the protests.
Under the settlement, the city is forbidden from using non-lethal force on peaceful demonstrators.