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The Northland Looks To Gain Clout When Kansas City Draws New Council Maps

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File Photo by Julie Denesha
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KCUR 89.3
New Kansas City Council district boundaries will affect the next council election in 2023 and could also affect those in 2027 and 2031.

Saying all neighborhoods need "fair representation at City Hall,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas appoints a commission to redraw city council districts based on 2020 Census data.

Kansas City is starting the crucial job of redrawing its city council district boundaries, and the Northland is likely to gain new influence because that’s where the population growth has been.

The six council districts will be redrawn to equalize population, reflecting changes based on the 2020 Census. The city charter requires the council to draw new districts by the end of this year.

On Tuesday, Mayor Quinton Lucas named a nine-member commission to recommend changes by November.

“Over the past 10 years, Kansas City’s population has steadily grown — and I am proud to now have more than 500,000 residents living in our city, reaching the highest population number in our city’s history,” Lucas said in a news release.

“As we work to build a vibrant city for all, it is important for us to ensure Kansas Citians in all neighborhoods have fair representation at City Hall,” he added. “Each City Council district is represented on this commission by an individual with a strong understanding of and strong ties to their home district.”

The council has 13 members (including the mayor). Six at-large members reside in specific districts but are elected by voters citywide; six in-district members are elected by voters only within their district.

Currently, the Northland has two full districts, 1 and 2, and four council representatives (two at-large and two in-district).

District 4 stretches all the way from 59th Street south of the Missouri River into part of Briarcliff just north of the River. Both of its council members currently reside south of the river.

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Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri's six city council districts as they're currently redrawn. The city's charter mandates that they be redrawn by the end of the year based on 2020 Census data.

With redistricting, District 4 is likely to extend farther into the Northland, making it possible that more Northlanders would be eligible to run for those seats.

The district boundaries are important because they have an impact on city policy and on how city money is spent for infrastructure, public safety and other priorities. The boundaries also determine where city council candidates reside in upcoming elections, and the voter base for various candidates.

The new boundaries will impact the next council election in 2023 and potentially could also affect 2027 and 2031.

The redistricting commission will be chaired by management consultant Stephenie Smith.

Other commission members are Pedro Zamora, Reid Day, Mike Kellam, Martin Rucker, Clinton Adams Jr., Vicki Noteis, Cokethea Hill and Chris Lewellen.

"The Kansas Citians who will serve on our Redistricting Commission showcase the strength and diversity of our city, and I know they will each commit themselves to recommending a fair map to City Council," Lucas said.

The commission holds its first meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8 on the 10th floor of City Hall. The meeting will also be live-streamed on Kansas City Government Channel 2.

After commissioners make their recommendations, final decisions rest with the full council.

Lynn Horsley is a freelance journalist in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter @LynnHorsley

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