City Clerk Sarah Johnson released her final map for City Council districts this morning.
The maps — which create six Council districts, instead of four, to accommodate the recent change of city governance — show very few alterations from her preliminary map, which was released in September. Among the tweaks: Precinct 170 moved from District 1 to District 5, Precinct 127 moved from District 5 to District 1, and Precinct 420 moved from District 4 to District 6.
The final map does not affect the district assignments of any current Councilors eligible to seek re-election in April. (In other words, unless one of them moves, Bernie Herpin and Brandy Williams will still have to face off against each other if they want to hold office.) The map will soon be accessible at an interactive city webpage, which will also allow residents to search for their district by address.
Johnson’s slight tweaks didn't please groups who petitioned for greater changes, including the Black/Latino Coalition, the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum and the Council of Neighbors and Organizations. All groups said Johnson’s map unfairly breaks up neighborhoods and minority communities.
At a public meeting today, Johnson responded to several people who questioned why greater changes were not made to maps in order to preserve neighborhoods and "communities of interest." Some of the changes would have only required swapping a couple precincts between districts, and were agreeable to residents.
Johnson said she had looked at proposed changes, but simply decided not to do them. She gave no specific reasons why.
Johnson did say that she couldn't make larger changes because city lawyers advised her that doing so would have required her to host another public meeting. Johnson said city law states that she shall host "a public meeting," which she interpreted as meaning "only one." Therefore, larger changes suggested by concerned citizens couldn't be considered, she said.
The explanation caused grumbling among citizens, one of whom called it "a catch 22."
The clerk’s version of maps is not subject to change by City Council or the mayor.