DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines City Council members listened to comments from residents Tuesday night about proposed redistricting maps for the state's capital city.
The Council reviewed several ward maps during their meeting and eventually agreed the third plan would work best for the city. They were supposed to review a map proposed by Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald along with another map proposed by city staff.
City spokesman Al Setka told Local 5 moments before the meeting that the Council would only review maps proposed by city staff. They also reviewed one map of proposed precincts.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said the auditor's map was only a "suggestion."
Here are links to the proposed plans:
Des Moines residents arrived at the meeting expecting to review a map proposed by the auditor.
"I came here expecting discussion, deliberation [...] about the Polk County Auditor's map because it said in your news release," said resident Carol Moher. "You guys issued the news release saying you were going to discuss it, so it's a little disappointing. Sounds a little backroom dealing to me."
Councilmember Josh Mandelbaum later said the third map just makes the most sense for the city.
"The map that we ultimately went with, I think, is easier to explain. Overall, the east-west boundary in Ward 3 is essentially southwest right, from where you get out of downtown all the way to [the] county line road," Mandelbaum said. "And then the downtown area is all in Ward 3. So that's a slight change from where things are currently."
Mandelbaum's biggest takeaway from Tuesday night's meeting is that council members should be focused on the city as a whole.
"We are all invested in the success of the city and every part is important to it," he said. "And you can't just think about things from a ward perspective. You have to think about the things from a city perspective."
Mandelbaum added that wards matter for elections, but the job of the council is to improve the city.
Following the 2020 U.S. Census, the city has 60 days from Nov. 4 to hold a hearing, pass an ordinance to finalize and complete changes to precincts and wards with the corresponding new map and submit all materials to the state.
The map approved by council members Tuesday night may not be the exact map used later. The next step in the process is for the Council to send its proposed map to the county auditor.
The Council will then wait for seven to 10 days while the auditor reviews the map, as directed by Iowa law. The auditor may send recommendations for the changes to redistricting, according to the city.
There will then be a public hearing prior to ordinance adoption, which is already scheduled for Dec. 20. The city must submit all redistricting materials to the Secretary of State's Office by Jan. 3, 2022.
You can watch the live stream of the meeting on YouTube below