Miramar considers districting

Officials seek experts' guidance

MIRAMAR--Districting, a hot campaign issue, may be one step closer to becoming a reality.
City commissioners say they are prepared to sit with a consultant and brainstorm ways to make it work.
Vice Mayor Marjorie Conlan said at a recent commission meeting that after years of considering it, the city needs to take action.
"The last time I brought it up, the direction from the commission was to formulate a charter review and move forward from there. But we didn't do anything, we just talked about it," Conlan said.
Though Conlan said she's not yet sure whether districting is what's best for Miramar, she would like to hear from experts in the area about the pros and cons. City Manager Robert Payton said he would check with various universities for experts to guide them through the process.
Before districting could be put in place, residents would have to vote by referendum on the switch. Some say the city's west side has grown so dramatically that more representation is needed.
Before the last election, four of the five council members lived east of Palm Avenue. But Commissioner Troy Samuels, who was elected to office last month, helped shift the balance. Since Samuels lives out west, there now are two on the council who live west of Palm Avenue.
Candidates who live in the western communities say it's hard with an at-large system to garner the votes necessary to win seats, because turnout is lower out west and there is a sizable population ineligible to vote.
But Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman warned commissioners that they would have to be careful about drawing boundaries in a city that's still growing.
"If each district is supposed to have X amount of people and this city is not yet built out, it's not easy," said Salesman, who said he fears gerrymandering during the process.


(source) Sun Sentinel (Georgia East) 4-03-05