Peoria City Council approves new district maps
On a 9-2 vote, the Peoria City Council on Tuesday night ratified district map 2.3 with a May start date.
At the last council meeting on Feb. 8, a public hearing was set for the redistricting process where residents, mostly of the West Bluff, voiced opposition to map 2.3 that split the Moss Bradley Neighborhood Association.
At-Large council member Beth Jensen, who voted "no" Tuesday night, said the redistricting process is unnecessarily being fast tracked.
“A majority of this council didn’t agree to have at least one more policy session after receiving that input during the public hearing,” Jensen said. “I think that’s terrible form and it’s not good government.”
She said 10 out of the 11 council member seats could be filled by residents north of War Memorial Drive. Jensen is a resident of the 2nd District, where the Moss Bradley Neighborhood Association will soon be divided between two council districts.
Corporation counsel Chrissie Kapustka, citing state statutes, said the map should be adopted no later than Oct. 1, but closer to August.
At-Large council member Zach Oyler, who set the May adoption date, said his personal map preferences and others would not form a suitable map.
“There’s probably 10 things I could think of off the top of my head that I would like to change about this map. And I’m sure that everyone around this horseshoe could do the same thing and if we all try to push for those 10 things we’re never going to create a map,” Oyler said. “Much to my surprise, this process happened more quickly than planned, but I think it’s because it became very evident that we found things that we agreed on … larger-scale commonalities coalesced around this version 2.3 map.”
First District council member Denise Jackson, the second nay vote, said the “record time” committee approval process is leading citizens to ask for additional public comment.
“Even though we unanimously approved it (map 2.3), I think by rushing to go ahead and ratify it and finalize it…we’re not respecting the voters wishes in terms of at least giving them one opportunity to hear their voices before we make this decision, that’s going to have an impact for the next 10 years,” said Jackson.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria sent a letter from president Terry Kohlbuss to city officials signaling its opposition to map 2.3.
“The board is disappointed you advertised public meetings on March 1, March 15 and potentially March 29 and then withdrew that invitation. Those meetings would have provided needed opportunities for the public to understand map version 2.3 and react to it. Unfortunately the decision to vote on map version 2.3 on Feb. 22 eliminates that possibility,” the letter in part read.
The Feb. 8 meeting agenda did show dates for March policy sessions, but the council majority at the time agreed to the Feb. 15 scheduled session and subsequent meetings were unnecessary.