Springfield City Council Approves New Ward Map

Springfield City Council Approves New Ward Map

Photo: Newsradio WTAX

Check the map — your alderman may have changed.

The Springfield City Council has approved a new ward map as it’s supposed to every ten years to reflect the latest census. Ward 2 Alderman Gail Simpson voted for a map that increased the percentage of African-Americans in her ward.

“If you get to a point where you keep eroding the percentages, you get to a point where people will say ‘well, it doesn’t matter. Let’s continue to decrease them,'” she says. “Why go back?”

The approved Springfield ward map

The map currently in use has Ward 2 as 59 percent African-American. A consent decree from the 1980’s was put in place to ensure minority representation on the city council through a majority-minority ward, which has historically been Ward 2. What was referred to as a “gentleman’s agreement” during the council meeting outlined aldermen would try for 60 percent African-American representation, but that’s not codified in law or the decree.

Several aldermen favored a different map that would have made Ward 2 57 percent African-American instead of 60. The approved map, however, splits the Enos Park neighborhood into two wards, for example, and Ward 6 extends south of Interstate 72.

“It’s clearly not an urban… 90 percent of Ward 6 is an urban ward, but it goes completely south,” said Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe, who was the lone alderman to vote no. “It’s not really intact.”

“Stuff happens,” said Simpson, when asked to respond to Jobe’s concerns about contiguous wards.

Also a point of contention in Ward 6: the old YWCA site and adjacent parking lot, which Jobe says he worked hard to get TIF designation for, is now in Ward 2.

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