West Hill has been part of the city’s first ward, together with South Hill and parts of the city’s north side. It seems that there is momentum now to convert to a districting plan in which the first and second wards would be combined. This is a map of the proposed wards, with notations showing how many voters there are in each of them. (You can also download a PDF of the same map here: Number of Voters – Redistricting Options. For an appeal from Cynthia Brock and an analysis of the situation, see below.
I am asking for your help to compel council to retain our 5-ward structure. As you may know, on Monday, Council was evenly divided between Scenario 4-6 and Scenario 5-4 in choosing the new electoral districts over the current ward map. Council has called for a Special Session to be held Wednesday, June 13th at 5:30 – prior to the Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting (which will begin at 7p). I encourage you to come and speak out on this topic! If you can’t attend, please email Council and the Mayor before Wednesday.
Our 5-ward structure gives political voice to our year-round, working-class and non-student minority residents.
The residents of Ithaca who have moved here, invested their savings here and raise their families here live predominantly in West Hill and Downtown (the 1st and 2nd ward). Ward 3, 4, and 5 have significant student populations with fraternities, sororities and dorms — and they will retain their voice in either electoral scenario, as they are not being “dissolved” into another ward. By combining West Hill and Downtown in the 4-ward electoral structure we disempower the voice of our residents in our neighborhoods.
The 1st and 2nd wards has been, and continues to be, the wards which also are predominantly working-class: we, who teach our children, care for our families and administer our services.
How do I know this is true? The city-wide median assessed value of a single family home in the City of Ithaca is $175,000. If we look at this by Ward we see:
- Ward 1 – $145,000
- Ward 2 – $140,000
- Ward 3 – $250,000
- Ward 4 – $300,000
- Ward 5 – $190,000
There are 2300 more registered voters in West Hill, South Hill and Downtown than in Wards 3, 4 and 5 combined — we represent the neighborhoods of the highest percentage of Ithaca’s year-round residents. We represent our active, politically engaged residents. By combining our neighborhoods into one ward and reducing to 4-wards, we reduce our voice in how we govern and manage our city!
It is wholly appropriate that the representative voice of all who live in Wards 1 and 2 should hold 40% of council – 4 representatives of 10. With 4 council members, we have the people to represent the needs of our residents in the committees and boards on which they serve.
In maintaining a 5 ward structure under the 5-4 scenario created by the redistricting committee:
- · In scenario 5-4, four members of Council (vs. two) will continue to serve (and be accountable to) those who have made Ithaca their home (year-round residents), while also rectifying the short-comings of the current ward design.
- · In scenario 5-4 we strengthen our college town ward while also providing opportunity for a student presence on council.
- · In scenario 5-4 we maintain the representative voice of our working class and non-student minorities.
- In scenario 5-4 we allow a county 4-district structure with minimal fragments – maintaining our community strength in this electoral process.
We will lose these benefits we currently possess if we move to a 4 ward scenario:
- Four wards will disenfranchise our year-round, working class and non-student minorities by reducing our representative voice on council –from 40% to 25% (4 of 10 to 2 of 8)
- Four wards will move our community backward and undo all the work our community has done to empower our people, promote civic engagement, and address the needs of our residents who work hard to make ends meet.
- Four wards will reduce to two the number of council members with the most intimate knowledge of the struggles that our working class face.
- Four wards will create a council which is less democratic and less accountable to its people.
We should be working forward to a more inclusive government – promoting participation rather than diminishing it. We should be moving toward a more representative democracy – not away from it.
Please help! Please send an email to Council and the Mayor today! Their email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com