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St. Louis Board of Aldermen takes first step in city ward redistricting

A unanimous vote today by thelegislation committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen kicked off the public part of the city's redistricting process.

Members had to cope withlosing another 29,000 people, the vast majority of them from the north side wards. But unlike 10 years ago, when the new map picked up a north side ward and dropped it in the south side, the wards this year simply expanded toward the central corridor, where population grew.

"I'm proud of what we've done," said Ald. Phyllis Young, who led the process in 2001 and again this year. "We have kept the populations for the black wards at what I think are reasonable, and we have been able to keep everybody in place."

Here are some of the highlights of the new map:

  • There will still be 28 aldermen - changing that number requires changing the city charter.
  • The average ward population is 11,304.
  • The 6th ward, currently represented by Kacie Starr Triplett, will be the largest, with 11,961 people.   Antonio French's 21st ward will be the smallest, with 10,844 people.
  • No major institutions or landmarks will be in new wards, though Saint Louis University will now be represented by three aldermen. Ald. Young also kept major development areas in the wards of the aldermen who have worked the hardest on them.
  • Just one member of the city's central Democratic Committee was drawn out of their current ward.

Ald. Terry Kennedy, Young's co-chair, called this redistricting so far the smoothest of the three in which he's participated. He said the struggling economy and overall loss of population - just four of the city's 28 wards gained population - kept the level of contention down.
"It all speaks to the need that we have to work together," Kennedy said. "And people said those kind of things in their meetings with one another. We realize we need to work together to make this a better place to live." 

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.