The Peoria City Council chose a new redistricting map Dec. 14, and it will be implemented before the 2022 election. 

Of the five finalist maps, No. 4 was determined by majority vote to be the new map.

“After a robust and citizen-centric redistricting process that included eight in-person meetings, two virtual meetings, an online engagement process and online mapping software, Peoria City Council approved a new council district map,” Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat said.

“All of the maps we reviewed were submitted anonymously by the public, and I am thankful for those who engaged in this important process. The final map meets all federal legal requirements and keeps communities of interest intact. I am proud to support a map that was created by our community for our community.”

According to consultant comments provided by the city, the new map will decrease population deviation from 36.86% to 6.36%. 

The most notable details are the Pine District will increase the total minority population by 2%, minority voting age by 2%, Hispanic population by 1.4%, and Hispanic voting age by 1.5%. 

The Acacia District will see decreases in overall minority population by 5.34%, minority voting age by 5%, Hispanic population by 4.2%, and Hispanic voting age by 4.25%. 

Each age-restricted master-planned community will be entirely contained in a district, with no more than a single one in each. Each member of the council will continue to remain in their current district.

Accusations of gerrymandering and decreasing minority voting power were made at the council leading up to the meeting. 

Mesquite District Councilmember Bridget Binsbacher said she doesn’t want minority residents to feel taken advantage of or forgotten.

“The fact that there is the perception out there that we do not serve all people was of great concern to me,” Binsbacher said. 

“I don’t see it that way at all, but I’m not living in their shoes. If there are people out there who feel that way, I want to hear from them. I say this in all sincerity — I am a proud Hispanic woman. I am American of Mexican descent, second generation. My grandparents came here through the proper channels, earned their citizenship, and were hard-working citizens of this country. I, in no way, want to not be here for the Hispanic community or any community. We are one Peoria.”

Pine District Councilmember Denette Dunn voiced her concern that other councilmembers may have prioritized political self-interests over the public’s opinion.

“What about a councilmember cutting out the competition and putting those two candidates in a different district?” Dunn said.

“Could that be politically motivated? I don’t know. We all have to look at all this information. I’m not saying that it is or isn’t. There are a lot of things that are just not making sense. Why are we not listening to the public? Why aren’t we looking more at maps one and three?”

The new map will make a large impact on the population of each district, with an ideal population mark set at 31,831. 

Mesquite District is set to receive the largest change with a loss of 8,476 residents, resulting in a total population change from 41,160 to 32,684.

Pine District will gain 3,124 residents, rising from 29,374 to 32,498. 

Palo Verde District will welcome 2,363 new members, increasing from 28,999 to 31,362. 

Ironwood District will grow by 2,085 from 28,789 to 30,874. 

Acacia District will increase by 1,852 from 28,919 to 30,771. Willow will decrease by 948 from 33,744 to 32,796.

The final vote comes after a four-month process. Resolution 2021-85 was adopted on Aug. 17, to establish the legal criteria by which a new map was to be selected. 

The Redistricting Committee created a website, held 10 open houses, and used social media to inform the public. Map proposals and public opinions were accepted up until Oct. 31. Thirty-eight maps were submitted. 

Of the 38, 15 were thrown out due to unacceptable population deviation, according to the city. 

The remaining 23 were evaluated and narrowed down to seven, which was narrowed further to the five finalists presented to the city council. Six plans were cut due to concerns over contiguousness. One plan involved removing an incumbent from a district. Nine plans contained multiple age-restricted master-planned communities within the same district.

The district lines of the city were originally set in 1990, which was based on 1985 census data. Lines were re-evaluated after the censuses in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2010 and 2015.

PT