The 2020 Census data is in, and Jefferson City needs to redraw ward lines.
Out of the five wards, three declined in population over the last decade while two increased. Wards 1 and 4 saw the largest change, according to city data.
Wards losing population included:
- Ward 1, which saw the biggest loss at 5.5 percent, or 621 people.
- Ward 2, which dropped by 3.2 percent, or 262 people
- Ward 5, which dropped by 2.3 percent, or 184 people.
Overall, the city saw a 0.4 percent population increase, or 163 people.
Wards gaining population were:
- Ward 4, which saw the largest population change with a 12 percent increase, or 949 people.
- Ward 3, which increased by 3.6 percent, or 281 people.
With that much population shift, the city will need to redraw the wards with the goal of bringing them as close to even as possible.
Staff will present the City Council with map options at the Sept. 20 council meeting where members will voice a preference.
However, it isn't a decision purely made by city staff and the City Council.
After the council picks a map, the city will host at least two open houses, likely in the two following weeks, where members of the public can provide comments on the different map options.
City Planning Manager Eric Barron said the goal is to present a new map to the City Council at the Oct. 18 meeting, present community feedback and hold an additional hearing where members of the public can comment on the map. This would lead to approving new ward lines at the Nov. 1 meeting.
This is a faster timeline than the city had in the past when redrawing ward lines. The census data came out later than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic and filing for the next municipal election opens Dec. 7.
The election will be April 5, 2022.
Wards need to be redrawn before filing for the election starts so potential candidates know the ward boundaries.
This timeline leaves a little wiggle room, City Attorney Ryan Moehlman said, but not much.
Along with the population number, the process needs to consider retention of existing neighborhoods and precinct boundaries, a desire to keep historic boundaries, cohesion of existing communities of interest and consideration of incumbency.
In terms of population, wards can only have a 10 percent deviation from each other.
For instance, if the city's 43,242 population was evenly spaced between the five wards, each would have 8,541.6 people in it.
However, since that isn't achievable, a ward can be 5 percent above or below that number, Moehlman said.
To fall within that requirement, a ward must have a population between 8,114 — 8,968.
Wards 2 and 5 are below that range while Ward 1 is above it. Wards 3 and 4, while toward the extremes of that range, are within range.
The city could still make changes to the boundaries for Wards 3 and 4 if council members or staff provided reason to do so.