Redistricting Leaves Council Candidates Scrambling
The redistricting commission made its final recommendation Wednesday. There will be a public hearing scheduled Feb. 5 on the Plan 7 map that will be presented to city council.
A vote Wednesday by the St. Petersburg redistricting commission may leave two potential District 4 city council candidates without a district to run for in the 2013 municipal election.
Both Dr. David McKalip and Darden Rice currently live in District 4 but after the commission's choice of Plan 7 Wednesday, they would now be in District 3.
Council member Leslie Curran, who is ineligible to run again because of term limits, currently holds the District 4 seat. District 3 is held by council member Bill Dudley, who is still in the middle of his term.
McKalip, a local neurosurgeon, said it does not matter if he is able to run because he will remain active in St. Pete. What matters, he said, is letting the public know the redistricting process if flawed.
"I believe this is not a fair process," McKalip told Patch. "I don’t care if it keeps me in. I’m not here to influence the process. Whether I run now or serve in another way, it doesn’t matter to me. But I am concerned that this process is not valid and I think Plan 7 doesn’t serve the interests of the citizens of St. Petersburg."
McKalip filed to run for the District 4 seat this week prior to Wednesday's decision.
Rice, president of the League of Women Voters, also questioned the redistricting commission's decision. She said their decision leaves her no choice but to find another home so she can run for Curran's seat.
"I am in (the) process of signing a lease on a new residence in a safer precinct in District 4," Rice told Patch. "I started these proactive steps a few weeks ago when it became clear that the multiple maps curiously drew all three of my homes out of the district in what appears to be a very subjective process."
Plan 7 (which you can see above along with the other proposed maps) received six votes from David Herzik, Dan Kunitzer, Brian Ligon, Linda Lucas, Theresa McEachern and Laurel Macdonald.
Plan 2 received the other three votes from commissioners Paul Dickens, Greg Holden and Ann Sherman-White
Last week during a redistricting public hearing Rice and dozens of local residents voiced their support of Plan 2. That plan would have allowed McKalip and Rice to run and it would have created a third minority district in the city.
Both McKalip and Rice say the city charter is not clear if sitting council members who are ineligible to run can be drawn out of their district.
According to the charter the districts must adhere to the following criteria:
- Equal representation of 30,596 persons in each City Council district. Deviation can be ±2.0% or between 29,984 and 31,208 persons in each Council district.
- City Council districts must follow voting precinct boundaries
- Each district must be formed of contiguous territory.
- City Council districts must be compact.
- City Council districts must follow centerlines of streets, railroad lines or natural boundaries.
A sixth criteria, which says each current City Council member must remain in his or her current City Council district, is recommend by city staff but is not clearly stated in the charter.
On Feb. 5 a second public hearing will be held on the redistricting commission's recommendation. After public input is given, the commission will give its final recommendation to council.
The redistricting commission has until Feb. 15 to give council's its recommendation. Council has until May 12 to complete redistricting.