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Uplands supports 10 council districts

At the Uplands Residential Association meeting Thursday evening, residents voted to support establishing ten City Council districts to replace the current system of five district and five at-large representatives. Meeting attendees expressed several reasons smaller districts and the elimination of at-large representation would be better for the City. Smaller districts would:

  • Be more manageable for council representatives. Instead of 23,000+ residents per district, there would be less than 12,000 residents per district.
  • Provide more opportunity for minority representation. The current at-large/cumulative-voting system was established to increase minority representation, but has not accomplished that goal. Keeping the current system could end up reducing minority representation due to district expansion.
  • Provide more representation for the older neighborhoods. Under the current at-large system, a disproportionate number of council members have come from North Peoria.

The Uplands also voted to support eight districts with two at-large members if a ten-district solution is unachievable.

In other business, The Uplands expressed concern that the Pi Beta Phi Sorority (a.k.a. “Pi Phi House”), 1004 N. Institute Pl., which is for sale, is being listed as a multi-family residence for up to 29 people, or possible commercial location. In checking with the Planning and Growth Department of the City, the property is zoned R-4 (single-family residential), with a grandfathered sorority use. Thus, the property can only be used for a sorority or a single-family home. Any other use would require rezoning. It was decided to send a letter to the realtor explaining these facts so it can be listed accurately.

22 comments to Uplands supports 10 council districts

  • Pat Lewis

    I agree; I am going to work toward that goal out here in Deerbrook and the other area neighborhoods. It will not be an easy task to change the status quo, but if the Neighborhood Associations work together, we can, not only improve the way our city is governed, but create a system that demands a higher level of performance and accountability from all our elected representatives.

  • conrad stinnett

    University East will be discussing this at our upcoming meeting.

  • Martin Palmer

    Pat Lewis: “Neighborhood Associations work together” Is that the puropse of the Neighborhood Allaince?

  • On one hand, anything to get rid of at-large districts.

    On the other hand, smaller districts mean greater batter representation by one’s neighbors.

    on the third hand, anything to get rid of at-large districts …

  • prego man

    Why not just two representatives from each of the 5 districts?

  • Mamma Hen

    Billy,
    Ilove you, however i don’t agree with you this time. We in the older neighborhood Need Council at large. They return their phone calls a lot faster than district, not every body has a great council person to get back at them. I hear from people thru out the community and they say , their district Council person Doesn’t call them back. No matter how a Council person doesn’t like or agree , they should listen to the concerns of the people, not just their chosen few.. That not just me talking, its people in other district.We need our At Larges. They care and get back to us .

  • Peo Proud

    My first concern with doing away with the at-large is that we’ll become more and more little “fiefdoms” controlled by self-absorbed and “district-focused” (not in a good way) tyrants where the focus is on gaining for their district without concern or overall focus on the City as a whole. There are several good examples of that already….but I won’t name names.

    Secondly, a “bad” district council person can mean years of neglect or discord for the District and heaven help you if you get on the wrong side of the council member.

    Thirdly, I think the at-larges have shown their value both in terms of city-wide focus and targeting specific neighborhood issues. Plus they tend to be more multi-issued since their support must come from a wide-range of electors rather than those with a similarity of interests / issues.

    Finally, I think history shows that the at-large seats have done more to increase underrepresented groups (i.e. – female, african american, etc.) representation on the Council than District elected representatives have — Turner (multi-term at large) and I believe that Nat LaDeux (sp?) was also elected at-large.

  • checking for details.

    I agree, when you have a bad rep, you must turn to at larges for help. Unfortunately we have also had some less than stellar at larges supporting their own pet projects. The problem really tends to be that no one questions the District’s request for projects, such as a 1/4 million to replace walkable sidewalks. At larges are treated as second class reps by the districts and mayor and they are not allowed to implement projects without at large approval, meaning if an at large sees a need, they won’t get funding if the district wants the money for their own pet project. Exception is Spain who is owned by HP and the Chamber.

  • Mamma Hen

    I must disagree about Councilman Spain, He really cares about the neighbors and their trouble. He went down and helped the North Valley , when the neigbors couldn’t a cat out of a very high tree. He returns his calls and follows up.Yes they care about sidewalks , E.T.C. But they care about us as people who elected them..Its all about the city as a whole. They can’t make us all happy, all the time. I think we expect a lot out them. The at larges put their money where their mouth is, i feel.

  • spikeless

    And of course there is that pesky little voting rights lawsuit settlement agreement that was the impetus for the creation of Districts as they now exist…soooo, remember the Federal court and the parties to the suit may very well be a fly in the proposed ointment of change.

  • Mahkno

    Spikeless,

    Before the lawsuit, Peoria had an 8:2 configuration. The plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit asked for a 10:0 seat council because minorities were underrepresented. The judge disregarded their solution and from the bench implemented what we have today, 5:5 with cumulative voting.

    There have never been more than 2 African-Americans on the city council since the decision. The reader can decide if that is sufficient diversity or not.

    Any change away from 5:5 with cumulative voting will require a revisit to the court decision. The Uplands is in favor of revisiting that decision and pursuing a solution (10:0) that aligns with that of the plaintiffs.

  • District 150 observer

    Agree Mamma Hen. Spain appears to want what is best for the city. Some here disagree with his methods, but that doesn’t make him a bad person.

  • Karrie E. Alms

    D150 observer:

    Correct … Spain appears to want what is best for the city …. it doesn’t make him a bad person. Nevertheless, we are still on the wrong road to nowhere.

  • Spain is a good guy. Still, he voted for the Hotel and supports the Museum. Why? Can we live with that much good?

  • Mike G

    With smaller districts the quality of candidates may suffer since the pool would be a smaller geographically tied population. We may have people running unopposed and otherwise not particularly qualified. Ever met a candidate who didn’t know _any_ of the responsibilities of the post for which they were running? — I have! Having at-large seats draws candidates from the broader area provides competition with the election process.

  • outsidethebox

    I’ve never seen so many negative rubes on these comment threads…Peoria is the largest metro area outside of Chicago in the 5th largest state in the union but many “natives” act as if we’re going down the tubes…it doesn’t add up to the statistics I see of a place to invest in the next five years by several large financial institutions…if those who don’t like it…see the “handles” above, move to Kingston Mines, Elmwood, South Pekin, Goofy Ridge, Galesburg where things are perfect…please

  • Karrie E. Alms

    outsidethebox: Really?

    And several years ago …. Peoria was the 2nd largest, then the 3rd largest, then the 4th largest and now the 5th largest metro area outside of Chicago … Peoria is of a similar population size as 100 years ago …. while the geographical area has at least tripled …. cost of services has gone up, taxes have gone up, basic services have gone down and ….

    it will be interesting to ‘hear’ the explanation for the tax rate needing to go up because EAVs in many areas have gone down with the new assessments. Politicians will most likely not be able to claim that your tax rate has not gone up …. it will be interesting budget discussions for the early fall.

    so what is your point?

  • checking for details

    District 150
    Spain is what is best for this city. The number one problem is crime. Spain has pushed for a museum that will cost tax payers for the next 30 years. civic center expansion for the next 30 years, a proposed hotel for at least the next 20 years, the warehouse district, more and more money goes into that, it’s all tax dollars to date, (we do pay state and federal taxes). Only vote of his related to crime is the vote on the budgets to cut police and to increase firemen. the number of fires doesn’t seem to be increasing significantly if at all. The number of shootings? The shooting of a 3 year old in his home didn’t even pause the debt mongers, the death of an 8 year old will only give them pause. On the council agenda is items on the warehouse district and spending more tax dollars. Sharp’s article in PJstar reported Spain was amazed that the NEA chair came to Peoria because the city council would spend $100,000 to get $250000 for the art and art programs, some for children to have something to do. He didn’t come for the council in the first place. I am not sure if anyone from the council even met with him or not, didn’t see any media.
    spain did lead the charge to spend $50,000 of TIF funds (taxes) to get $250,000 from Tricounty planning (more tax money) for the warehouse district investors (the fat cats)so that they could have a masterplanner. I am sorry, should developers be able to well…develop…why do we need to spend even more tax money to increase the profit margin.

    So District 150, what must be best for the city is more debt and fewer services.

  • UnclePugsly

    Hey ‘outsidethebox’, you need to get back in that box before you hurt yourself!

    And oh yeah, get out of the COP and D150 if you can…

  • Dennis in Peoria

    If you’re saying that Ryan Spain as a city councilman ‘pushed’ or voted for the museum, you need to check facts. The Museum is a Peoria COUNTY project. The Peoria COUNTY board voted to have the referendum, THEY approve all expenditures and collect the sales tax.

    If you’re saying that Ryan Spain as a Heartland Partnership employee pushed for the museum, then, yes, that’s a possiblity. But neither Mayor Ardis, other Councilmen or Spain voted as a public body to build to Museum.

  • checking for details.

    Dennis,
    2.8 Million from the city of Peoria, plus the $10 million asset of the block go back and check the votes. No land, no museum, and even when the group sat there and lied to the council, it was ignored. So yes, that is a push.