DeKalb to redistrict wards

By Thomas Verschelde

The DeKalb City Council is working on a plan to redistrict the wards of the city to even out the voter turnout.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said every census year, the city must review ward boundaries as it relates to the number of registered voters. This year, the number of registered voters throughout the wards was drastically inconsistent, Povlsen said.

First Ward Alderman David Jacobson said the goal is to ensure that all wards have a relatively even voting base.

Povlsen said all changes must be decided upon before next year’s aldermen election.

“We have tried to look at the problem in variety of ways in order to give equal representation to residents in each ward,” Povlsen said.

Povlsen also said all changes will not go into affect until next year’s election to avoid any possibility of inconsistent representation.

Fourth Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher said some aldermen are voted in with hundreds of votes, and while others are voted in with around 20 people. He said since all aldermen have equal voting power in the city council, this inconsistency in voting between the wards leads to unequal representation.

“It is like Rhode Island having the same voting power as California,” Gallagher said.

The problem lies mainly in the 7th Ward, where mostly college students live, Gallagher said.

“Most college students simply don’t have the same long-term investment in the city as other residents,” Povlsen said.

The boundaries lines will most likely be redrawn so the 7th Ward will include some of what is currently the 2nd Ward, Gallagher said.

Jacobson also said the consensus among aldermen at this time is to change the boundaries of the wards in order to equalize the wards by population and voter turnout. At this time, there are no plans to add a new ward, Jacobson said.

“It is a fairer way of distributing the alderman seats,” Povlsen said. “It gives fairer representation to the citizens who have a greater invested interest in the community.”