Donahue, a longtime Democrat, switched his registration to Republican in 2015. He has held the position of Fifth Ward alderman continuously since 1994. This year, the ward he seeks to represent is considerably smaller--both in geographic area and population--than it has been in the past. The maps below show the ward divisions as they had been since 1886, when the Fifth Ward was first created, and the new ward divisions created by last year's successful Fair & Equal referendum.
It is important to stress that the new boundaries create wards that are equal in total population not an number of registered voters. Notwithstanding a letter to the editor in the Register-Star claiming that Fair & Equal has not been achieved because the First Ward now has more voters than any of the other wards, that is not what is required by law. In a series of cases in the 1960s, the Supreme Court ruled that legislative districts must be of equal population. The Public Mapping Project explains it this way:
The court held that the 14th Amendment requires "one person, one unit of representation." That is to say that every person--irregardless if they are unable to vote due to their citizenship status or voting age--is afforded equal representation. Districts are therefore drawn on equal population, not on equal votes.In a city that has just declared itself to be "welcoming and inclusive," that distinction seems particularly significant.
Here's more information relevant to the primary on September 12. In two races, Common Council president and Fourth Ward supervisor, the Independence Party filed an OTB (Opportunity to Ballot) petition. This means, as I understand it, that members of the Independence Party can go to the polls on September 12 and write in the name of a candidate--any candidate--they want to represent their party for that office in the November election. The person receiving the most votes gets the Independence Party line on the November ballot.
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