Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

City Poised To Split Redistricting Process

Drawing wards first and aldermanic districts second to meet short deadline.

By - Nov 2nd, 2021 05:24 pm
Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The redistricting process has been one of delay in Milwaukee.

First, the U.S. Census Bureau was late in providing the data to draw new districts. Then, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors added weeks to the process by repeatedly rejecting districts drawn by its own Independent Redistricting Committee.

After an approximately six-hour meeting Friday, the county board adopted a new map and got the process moving again, but on an extremely compressed timeline.

All 19 county municipalities must now adopt their own maps and return them to Milwaukee County in time for the county to sign off on a final map by Nov. 23. Failure to complete the process could open the door to a lawsuit that allows a judge to draw a new map for the spring 2022 elections.

The City of Milwaukee is poised to bifurcate its process to enable it to meet the deadline. It would create a ward map and submit it to the county by Nov. 17. Then it would approve a map of council districts in December.

“That would allow us to have a more spacious public process,” said City Clerk Jim Owczarski to Urban Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The belief is that because the city’s own council districts don’t appear in any way in the spring election, they don’t need to be finalized in time to allow candidates to file for the spring elections.

“We are waiting on an opinion of the City Attorney,” said Owczarski.

The wards are essential to where people vote and how votes are tallied, so that work must be completed. The city clerk told Urban Milwaukee that at least 10 of the city’s 322 current wards need to be redrawn because state law requires them to have between 1,000 and 4,000 residents each. New construction has added thousands of residents to the greater downtown area while portions of the near North Side have lost substantial numbers of residents. Other wards have been split by new county supervisory boundaries.

The Common Council’s Judiciary & Legislation Committee is poised to review a new ward map prepared by the Legislative Reference Bureau at its Nov. 15 meeting. A special meeting of the full council is poised to be called for Wednesday, Nov. 17 at noon to adopt the maps.

Then, in December, the council would adopt new aldermanic districts. That process could result in more debate because it would change not where someone votes, but who represents them.

The delay would allow more public feedback, including a less abrupt hearing schedule and the ability for residents to design and submit their own maps.

The new aldermanic district maps are first scheduled to be used in the spring 2024 election when all 15 council members are up for reelection. The full county board is up for reelection this spring.

Maps and Statistics

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us