Lewiston rewriting ward boundaries

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LEWISTON — The city’s Ward 6 would expand to include the neighborhood surrounding No Name Pond based on proposed shifts to the city’s voting districts.

Bates College’ dormitories would move, according to the proposed ward map, out of Ward 3 and into Ward 1.

“Many of the wards, 75 percent of them, are exactly the same,” City Clerk Kathy Montejo said. “Of course, it’s all dependent on how the population has shifted in the last 10 years.”

Montejo said she and city staff have been working to update the city’s ward maps based on the 2010 census. The state adopted new maps for Maine’s legislative districts in June 2013 and they’ll come into use at the polls for June 2014’s primary elections.

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According to state guidelines, each ward can have about 5,228 residents, based on the 2010 census. Montejo said she hopes to change as few ward boundaries as possible so the new map doesn’t create confusion.

“That’s the only legal requirement, you have to re-balance,” Montejo said. “But the administrative goal is to minimize ballot districts as much as possible. We want to try to draw our city ward lines to be in conjunction with House and county lines as much as you can. We were able to achieve all of that, we think.”

Maps, showing each ward and the proposed changes, should be available to the public later this week.

“We really thought there would have been a shift out in Ward 6, but in fact it was the opposite,” Montejo said. “The population really moved out of that part of the city and into other wards, particularly Wards 1 and 2. It just shows that there have not been as many new homes built in that part of the city.”

Montejo said she’ll present the maps to the City Council at a Feb. 18 workshop. If they approve, they should see the a see a vote to adopt the new districts at meetings in March and April.

“What the council has to adopt is not the map itself, but the written description,” Montejo said. “They need adopt that, things like ‘…starting north easterly on Main Street for so many feet, then south-easterly…’ That’s why we’re showing them the maps next week. If they look good, we need some time to go back and write the text descriptions.”

No elected officials would be moved out of the wards in the draft map, she said. Changes were as subtle as possible.

If councilors approve, the new ward boundaries will be used for November’s election.

“We plan to send cards out to residents in October, telling them what their ward is,” she said. “Their polling place may not change, because the wards double up on poling places. But they will be notified before the election.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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