Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Milwaukee Releases Draft Plan For New Council Districts

Every aldermanic district would change under proposed plan.

By - Nov 18th, 2021 03:44 pm
Proposed Milwaukee Common Council district map. Image from City Clerk.

Proposed Milwaukee Common Council district map. Image from City Clerk.

Thousands of Milwaukee residents could find themselves with a new council representative, even if they don’t move.

The Milwaukee Common Council City Clerk‘s Office released a draft district map Thursday showing new boundaries for the city’s 15 council districts. Each district has at least one adjustment to its borders.

The maps would go into effect for the 2024 spring election cycle, when the entire council is up for election. The public can first weigh in on the proposed districts during a virtual town hall meeting on Friday at 6 p.m.

The district map comes after the council unanimously approved a ward map Wednesday.  The wards, which under state law must hold between 1,000 and 4,000 residents, are the building blocks from which the city’s council districts are created.

The city experienced a net population loss (17,611) in the past decade, but in an uneven manner. The result is that districts that lost population, particularly those on the North Side, must expand their footprint while others must contract.

One of those poised to shrink in size is the city’s third district, covering the northern edge of Downtown, the East Side and much of Riverwest. It gained the greatest number of residents in the past decade. Currently represented by Alderman Nik Kovac, the district is slated to lose one ward on its southern edge, retracting away from Downtown to E. Pleasant St. It would also lose one block of Riverwest, with the border moving east from N. Pierce St. to N. Fratney St.

The portion Kovac’s district is proposed to lose near Downtown would ultimately aid the expansion of the district that lost the greatest number of residents. The 15th aldermanic district, the city’s most impoverished, lost 4,804 residents. Its biggest addition would be a ward between N. 20th St. and N. 27th St. north of W. Highland Ave.

Represented by Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II, district 15 would gain the ward from district four, which in turn is gaining the downtown ward. District four, represented by Ald. Robert Bauman, would also shed its southwest corner, between N. 27th St. and N. 35th St. south of W. Wisconsin Ave. to the 10th district represented by Ald. Michael Murphy.

The ninth aldermanic district, which covers the city’s Far Northwest Side, would gain a squared-off border along W. Good Hope Rd. Currently represented by Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, the district’s borders and confusion about who represented what resulted in a 200-job development proposal being held for nearly a month in 2019.

The council is undertaking its redistricting process on a compressed schedule. The decennial census process was extended due to the pandemic, resulting in the data release being delayed. State officials could not agree on a revised redistricting timeline and then the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors delayed its process after it created an Independent Redistricting Committee and repeatedly rejected its proposed maps.

The county process is critical for the city because city wards cannot cross county district boundaries. “We really couldn’t start our work until we got their work,” said Ald. Ashanti Hamilton on Monday during a Judiciary & Legislation Committee meeting.

A virtual town hall meeting will take place on Friday at 6 p.m. to present a draft district map (registration link). Hosted by Hamilton with expected participation from other council members, the meeting will offer information in both English and Spanish.

A special meeting of the Judiciary & Legislation Committee is scheduled for Monday at 1:30 p.m. to review the map. The full council is slated to consider the district map on Nov. 23, the day it is due back to the county.

Maps and Statistics

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

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