Board of Aldermen hires redistricting consultant

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

GLOSTER &045;&045; Facing mandatory redistricting prior to its 2005 municipal elections, the Town of Gloster has hired a consultant to help shape new aldermen wards.

Redistricting expert Bill Rigby of Madison presented some preliminary options to town aldermen at their Nov. 4 meeting.

&uot;Once our aldermen have had time to review the maps and talk further with the consultant, then we will schedule a public hearing on the plan,&uot; Gloster Mayor Bill Adams said Tuesday.

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Gloster’s population decreased from 1,323 in the 1990 census to 1,073 in 2000, causing some wards to exceed the allowable variation from the town’s average.

The U.S. Justice Department requires redistricting following each census in districts or wards that vary more than 5 percent from the jurisdictional average.

According to the 2000 census, Gloster lost 193 blacks and 66 whites since 1990, while gaining a few people of other races.

The town’s racial demographics evened out from a 54 percent black voting age population in 1990 to 49.67 percent black and 49.53 white in 2000.

Adams said Gloster is required by the Justice Department to maintain two black majority and two white majority wards, with one &uot;swing&uot; ward that reflects the town’s voting averages.

&uot;It’s interesting.

The swing ward will have to run within a percentage point or two of being 50/50 black and white,&uot; he said.

Adams said other federal guidelines make the redistricting process even more challenging.

&uot;We used to be able to split census blocks when we were drawing new lines, but we can’t do that anymore,&uot; Adams said.

The town’s final plan will have to be submitted to the Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Justice Department for approval.