By MARK EVANS
Changes in population from the 2020 census has led to a need to redraw ward lines in the city of Ste. Genevieve.
The board of aldermen tackled the redistricting issue during part of its April 14 work session.
Currently, according to 2020 census data, Ward 1 has 1,016 people, Ward 2 has 1,006, Ward 3 has 1,399 (or 1,765 if detention center inmates are counted), and Ward 4 has 1,212
The board had looked at two options in February, rejecting one. By the time of the work session, most support seemed divided between Option 3 and Option 4.
“We tried to see what we could do in the wards to gain some balancing,” City Administrator Happy Welch told the board.
David Bova, community development administrator, and the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission did the suggested redrawn wards.
Option 3, Bova said, would keep every alderman in their current ward, but looks “a little jinky” to the south. Meanwhile, it was observed that Ward 4 looks “kind of like a sea horse” on that map. Again, it would keep all eight aldermen in their same ward.
Option 4 keeps two aldermen in each ward, so none of them would have to run against each other in future elections.
Bova said it reorients the ward to more of a north-south direction. Ward 3 Alderman Mike Raney and Ward 4 Alderwoman Ashley Armbruster would swap wards in this plan.
Armbruster thanked them for coming up with the additional options.
“I like the two new options,” she said, because “it keeps the neighborhoods intact.” She said the other options seemed “a little disjointed.”
It keeps most subdivisions together.
Welch added that Ward 1 “looks huge, but it’s not,” due to empty areas within it.
Welch said he would like to look at it again, perhaps in May. The question arose as to whether public input should be sought. Welch noted that it was not a legal requirement.
Raney asked if it “would be objectionable” to hold a public hearing at an upcoming meeting. Mayor Paul Hassler said it could be done, but asked, “How long will we drag this out, then?”
Ward 4 Alderman Joe Prince said he felt residents should have a say in the process.
“It’s something we have to do, Joe,” Hassler said. “It’s a decision, ultimately that we’re going to have to make.”
Prince complained that Plan 4 moved neighborhoods from Ward 3 to Ward 4 and from Ward 4 to Ward 1. He called it “clearer,” but “disruptive.”
City Clerk Pam Meyer questioned how much it would really affect voters, who would still get to vote on two of the eight positions.
Hassler said they needed to “move this along.”
“For my two cents, people need to be heard,” Raney said. “We need to move it along and it needs to be dictated by the geography of the layout.”
He said he felt uncomfortable even having a say in the drawing on Ward 3 and Ward 4 boundaries, since it could affect his reelection. Hassler replied that they would all “have to be engaged” in the process, since it is “for the future of the city.”