WHEELING - Mayor Andy McKenzie's redistricting committee was split Wednesday on which new ward map to recommend to Wheeling City Council.
Eight of the 16 appointed members - four by the mayor and two by each council member - gathered to figure out which of two maps to recommend. When polled by a show of hands on which they prefer, the decision was 4-4.
Traditionally, the mayor would work with his administration to even out ward maps after U.S. Census results reveal each precinct's population, but in an unconventional move, McKenzie decided earlier this year to turn to voters' input. As a result of a few meetings, two maps were selected as possibilities.
Photo by Zach Macormac
James Guy, representing Woodsdale on Mayor Andy McKenzie’s redistricting committee, discusses the two ward map options with his fellow committee members on Wednesday.
The goal of the committee was to ensure the new voting wards would not split neighborhoods while keeping the wards of a relatively even population. The current ward map splits North and East Wheeling.
The goal for Wednesday was to make a final choice, but the split decision led the mayor to one solution. At the upcoming Oct. 5 council meeting, the seven councilors will decide by majority which map to use.
"I think it's fair for us to give both proposals to council," McKenzie said.
Council will hear a first reading of an ordinance to adopt a new map at its Oct. 18 meeting. Before that, however, the mayor wants council to hold a public hearing. He noted the only opinion he heard outside of the committee came from a Woodsdale resident requesting not to be moved from Ward 4 to 5.
On Nov. 1, council will meet again for a final vote on the matter.
"We could throw everything out (with a vote), but I can tell you that will not happen," McKenzie said.
If both maps are rejected, however, the proposals will be sent back to the committee, which would consider changes and start the recommendation process again. The two proposals are named "Proposal A" and "Proposal B."
Proposal A considers all of North Wheeling for Ward 2, while Proposal B adds all those properties to Ward 1. East Wheeling falls entirely in Ward 3 in plan A, while it is a part of Ward 2 in plan B.
If either map is adopted, residents who should expect a ward change are those in Fulton currently in Ward 4; Clator, Morningside and Pleasanton in Ward 5; southernmost parts of North Wheeling and easternmost parts of East Wheeling in Ward 2; and Parkview and northern portions of Springdale in Ward 6.
Neighborhoods considered "safe" from change are mostly those on the outskirts of the city limits. They are Warwood in Ward 1; Wheeling Island and Downtown in Ward 2; Mozart, South Wheeling and Center Wheeling in Ward 3; Leatherwood, Woodsdale, Greggsville and Oglebay in Ward 4; Edgwood, Pleasant Valley, Dimmeydale and Oakmont in Ward 5; and Elm Grove in Ward 6.
Some neighborhoods could also be split between wards under the two maps. Both consider splitting Springdale in some way between Wards 5 and 6. Glenwood in A is separated into "upper" and "lower" portions between Wards 1 and 2, respectively. Also in A" voting district 120 consisting of Woodsdale and Edgwood would split the two areas.
Though the decision was split, committee members agreed the process used to decide the new map is "very transparent" on the part of the mayor and his administration.