Until Tuesday night, we would have been willing to bet that, besides the Sixth Ward, a lot of Oneontans don’t give a second thought to what ward they live in.
On Tuesday, the issue got raised twice. One was to be expected, as Oneonta voters went to the polls to cast their ballots in the election. But the topic was also raised at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, where Fifth Ward representative Madolyn Palmer said she was “swamped” with calls from her constituents, who were concerned that redistricting would place them in a new ward.
Eighth Ward representative Chip Holmes voiced similar concerns, saying that his and Palmer’s wards were being “destroyed” by the new maps.
We respect the fact that Holmes and Palmer are speaking out for their wards. But it seems like a case of too little, too late.
The new ward boundaries have been under consideration for months, and were presented to the Common Council at its last meeting. Where were Palmer and Holmes then?
We have similar questions about the council members’ statements that the ward boundaries are somehow unclear.
Palmer and Holmes complained that the proposed map doesn’t clearly define where residents live in some areas.
“I don’t think any of us understand it,’’ Palmer said.
Well, we do. The map (which can be seen at http://transfer.10nix.com/Final_Plan.png) looks pretty clear from where we sit. The various wards are clearly marked on the map in different colors, with distinct boundary lines where one ward ends and the other begins. It seem apparent that, just as now, when a ward boundary runs along a street, that residents on the two sides of that street will be in different wards.
We are glad that people are taking an interest in redistricting. It certainly does matter that these ward boundaries be reasonable and fair, and that there are good reasons for moving the boundaries around.
We also share concerns that were raised at Monday’s public hearing by Jason Antrosio, who warned that the student-heavy Fifth Ward could create some unforeseen circumstances. What worries us most is not that the students would rise up and seize political power, but rather that it would become a silent ward whose residents are not enfranchised in the political process of city government.
There is still time for more work on these and other concerns. Miller told the Council on Tuesday that another workshop would be held to go over the new ward boundaries in advance of the next Common Council meeting.
We encourage all who have questions, comments or concerns about this process to get involved — now, before it’s too late.