Shall the Common Council of the City of Hudson amend the City Charter to replace the current ward method of weighted voting utilized by the City with voting districts of equal population such that every resident of the City of Hudson is equally represented on the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors?The referendum question proposes that the current five wards, which are static, geographic boundaries, be replaced with five voting districts of equal population, whose boundaries would change to reflect population changes with every decennial census.
According to the plan proposed by Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), chair of the Legal Committee, the configuration of the five equipopulos districts would be determined by a "Redistricting Commission," which will tasked with coming up with a proposal within a year's time. It's hard to imagine that such a proposal could be dramatically different from the scheme that was worked out by attorney and Hudson resident Stephen Dunn, using 2010 census data to adjust the traditional ward boundaries to achieve five districts of equal population.
In preparation for writing his article about the resolution that will come before the Common Council in October, Mason interviewed all the usual suspects, including former mayor and now Fifth Ward supervisor Rick Scalera. Scalera had his own scheme for remedying the problem: create three voting districts while preserving the traditional ward boundaries by "combining the 1st and 3rd wards and the 2nd and 4th wards, and leaving the 5th ward as it is." According to Scalera, this would have the added benefit of cutting down on the cost of government, "as it would reduce the number of aldermen to six." Interesting idea--and an appealing one--but would it eliminate the need for a weighted vote to achieve the constitutional standard of one man, one vote? Not likely.
Using the data from the 2010 census, the combined population of the First (593) and Third (1,076) wards is 1,669; the combined population of the Second (1,477) and Fourth (716) wards is 2,193; and the population of the Fifth Ward is 2,541. 1,669, 2,193, 2,541--hardly equal. The votes of the six aldermen would still have to be weighted in order to achieve the constitutional standard.
To get an idea of what the weighted vote of the three voting districts proposed by Scalera might look like, let's compare the current weighted votes. The combined weighted votes of the First Ward aldermen (95 x 2 = 190) and the Third Ward aldermen (180 x 2 = 360) total 550. The combined weighted votes of the Second Ward aldermen (185 x 2 = 370) and the Fourth Ward aldermen (95 x 2 = 190) total 660. The votes of the two Fifth Ward aldermen (364 x 2 = 728) total 728. Although the situation would not be as dramatically inequitable as things are now, the Fifth Ward would still come out ahead: 550, 660, 728.
COPYRIGHT 2015 CAROLE OSTERINK