The Madison city council unanimously voted to adopt a new map updating Madison’s alder districts and wards this Tuesday. The new map is expected to rebalance the city’s population after a decade of growth.
The Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee recommended the new map to redistribute the city’s aldermanic districts to account for Madison’s asymmetrically expanding population. Since Madison’s last redistricting in 2011, the city experienced significant growth in the downtown area, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, as well as on the western and eastern edges of the city.
Previous redistricting plans presented to the council would have altered the 8th aldermanic district, which encompasses much of the student population, to exclude neighborhoods historically associated with UW-Madison, including some areas of the lakeshore dorms. The new map preserves the borders of the district eight, including the areas which previous plans had proposed to be incorporated into other districts.
If Madison’s population were divided equally among the 20 of aldermanic districts, each district would have 13,497 residents. The redistricting committee has set a 5% margin, allowing each district to range from 12,822 to 14,172 residents, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
During the construction of the new map, the redistricting committee took into account state and federal criteria centering on issues of social justice, according to a press release by the Ad Hoc committee. Some of the stated goals listed by the press release include:
- Having equal population
- Enhancing the participation of communities of color and communities that primarily use a language other than English
- Accounting for communities of interest such as:
- Neighborhoods and neighborhood associations
- Elementary school and attendance areas
- College students
- Housing tenure/transience
- Income distribution
The new map includes four districts consisting of a 35-40% population of color as well as two districts with a population of minority groups greater than 40%. The previous map only had two districts where people of color made up more than 35% of the population.
All city council members’ current place of residence will remain in their districts following the redrawing with the exception of Dis. 8 Ald. Juliana Bennett.
Typically, alders are required to reside within the district they represent, however, in this particular circumstance, Bennett has been granted special permission to continue acting as the District 8 alder.
The Common Council voted to approve several amendments during Tuesday’s meetings, including making alterations to the alder districts and wards as well as minor technical adjustments.
Some of these alterations include shifting an area of Monroe Street from District 13 back to District 5 and a change of polling location in ward 43.
Several alders, including Ald. Myadze (Dis. 18), objected to these changes, believing that they undermined the redistricting committee’s efforts to construct a fair aldermanic map.
“We gave a chance for the public to engage. With the short time that we had, I am staying consistent with my vote. No matter what we are doing tonight, we definitely have to have community engagement, which we did. We cannot do things on the fly,” Myadze said.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who participated in the 2011 redistricting process as an alder, has stated that she believes the amendments modifying the aldermanic districts are not irregular in the construction of a new districting map.
“Ultimately, it is the council’s responsibility to adopt these items,” Rhodes-Conway said. “It is not at all unprecedented to have a robust discussion and amendments at the council level.”
Until the next spring 2023 election, alders will continue to represent their newly redrawn districts.
As a result of the redistricting, three council members may compete with each other in the spring 2023 election. Ald. Sheri Carter (Dis. 14) and Ald. Christian Albouras (Dis 20) are moving into District 10 which is represented by Ald. Yannette Figueroa Cole.
The new wards and alder districts will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.