The redistricting process is beginning in Delaware’s largest city.
From the state legislature down to Delaware’s cities, district lines need to be redrawn following the 2020 census.
In Wilmington, that job is up to City Council, which met to begin that process Wednesday.
Kyra Hoffner is leading the charge from the League of Women Voters to involve the public in the map-making process. She says these lines can be very powerful.
“They decide how people’s voices are heard, empowered or just being diluted by the legislators drawing their own lines,” said Hoffner. “So this is why it’s important that the public gets involved.”
Hoffner says that’s why transparency in the process is important, something City Council says it’s committed to.
Council-members also heard from the state Department of Elections, which provides support to the General Assembly and cities when exploring new district maps.
New council member Shané Darby says a fresh look at the city and it’s communities is important.
“My concern is redistricting shouldn’t protect incumbents with current lines. And like they do that, right,” Darby said. “So like how are we making sure that we are doing this without starting off with the current lines and just doing what’s best based on whatever the data gives us.”
The city code states each district needs to be as close to equal as possible, but ensure that communities with shared interests are grouped together - making the process more complicated.
This time around, each district should represent around 8,800 people, one eighth of the city’s 71,000 people.
The committee will start mapping out different scenarios in late September. The redistricting process needs to be finished by February.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.