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Columbus Outlines Plan To Draw City Council Boundaries

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Columbus city staffers have proposed a process for drawing districts for City Council seats under a ballot issue now under consideration at city hall. The Columbus Charter Review Committee recommends a hybrid electoral system that expands the seven-member council to nine members elected from districts at-large. During a public hearing last night, Council Legislative Affairs Director Edward Johnson said district boundaries would be drawn every ten years under a system based on U.S. Census bureau data, best-practices in other cities and recommendations from non-partisan academics and voting groups.

Johnson says a five-member citizens committee whose members are appointed by council and the mayor would submit three proposals to council, which would have 60 days to approve or reject them. Only six citizens spoke at last night's hearing. And like those who spoke at more than a dozen previous public hearings, most said the overal electoral proposal is a step in the right direction, but fails to fix a broken system and fails address campaign financing. Laura Tompkins was among the speakers last night.

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Council members say they are attempting to balance public concerns about representation with the need to make sure all citizens have a voice at city hall. Council member Elizabeth Brown says there are pros and cons to keeping the current at-large electoral system or expanding it into a hybrid.

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The city will hold a roundtable discussion of the commission's recommendations on July 5th at 5:30 p.m. at the Columbus Public Health building on Parsons Avenue. If the proposal is to go before the voters this fall, council would have to approve it by the end of July.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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