An extensive constituency in northwest Las Vegas may soon transform from the city’s most populous department to the smallest as officials take on the decades-long process of redrawing political boundaries.
According to the city’s proposed redistribution map, Ward 6 would shed about 25,000 people and relinquish a significant portion of its southern tip west of US Highway 95 to Ward 4 next door to the south.
The political districts are important because they determine a resident representation in the impartial city council. A panel of three members of the city’s legislators will address the proposed map during a public hearing on Nov. 29, allowing residents to weigh in on the planned changes before the map is submitted to council next month.
It was introduced as a bill on Wednesday.
Smoothing of the playing field
One of the main intentions of redistribution, which takes place in accordance with the U.S. Census every decade, is to equalize the population among districts that change over time. The city charter allows districts to deviate by as much as 5 percent.
Section 6, represented by Councilwoman Michele Fiore, has grown rapidly over the past 10 years as illustrated by its current population: More than 130,000 residents call it home, according to census data quoted by the city.
By comparison, about 98,000 people live in Ward 3, the district that covers parts of downtown and eastern Las Vegas. It is the city’s least populated district and about 24 percent smaller than Department 6.
Most city departments are proposed to grow under the city’s redesigned political map, including Department 3, which would become the city’s second largest district by growing to about 109,000 inhabitants.
Only Ward 6 and Ward 2, the outermost western district that includes Summerlin, would lose residents during the proposed shift, though the change would be much less dramatic in Ward 2, which would drop by about 2,000 residents to 106,000.
No department would have a population of more or less than 4.5 percent of another if the proposed map were adopted. The figures do not take into account the approximately 1,800 people imprisoned in the city’s wards, although the effect of these data on population size is minimal.
Diversity status quo
The adjustments to the populations underscore the major changes being considered inside the town hall and illustrate the significant number of residents who are likely to get a new council representation soon.
But the effect of the proposed map on diversity seems more subtle. In voting age demographic demographics, each department would either retain roughly the same percentage of white, black, Latin American, and Asian residents, or vary between gains and losses of 1 to 2 percent, according to the proposal.
Section 3 would remain the only minority-majority district in the city, but the Latin American population would fall from 59 to 57 percent.
The redrawn map also appears to be making an effort to create geographical continuity. For example, Ward 6 and Ward 5, which cover parts of downtown and the historic Westside, would have a combined six area east of Highway 95 between the Craig and Ann roads that currently belong to Ward 4, resulting in Ward 4 jumping across the highway.
Richard Manhattan, a sports and entertainment consultant living in Section 1, expressed concern about the prospect that he and neighbors in five areas south of Sahara Avenue would be pushed into Section 3.
Section 1 covers central Las Vegas, almost exclusively west of Interstate 15, including the Medical District. It is ready to grow from the city’s third most to its most populous district by having nearly 7,400 inhabitants.
However, under the proposed change, four areas south of Sahara Avenue would become the only territory west of the highway represented by Section 3 councilwoman Olivia Diaz.
“It does not make logical sense to me,” Manhattan said, adding that he has been investigating neighbors about the proposed change.
He was concerned that it would be difficult to cross Interstate 15 and a major industrial corridor to build community with Ward 3, and that voters in eastern Las Vegas would be positioned to control the political fate of his neighborhood.
Councilor in Department 1 Brian Knudsen acknowledged on Wednesday that the proposed change represented a personal loss, “because I really spent so much time in these areas.” But he also said he did not think it was healthy to share votes on major decisions, nor did he want to hamper Diaz’s effectiveness as the area’s likely future councilor.
“I do not see a whole lot of value in being a 6-1 vote,” he said in an interview.
Visit the city’s website at LasVegasNevada.gov and type “redistricting” into the search tool to see the proposed redrawn political map.
The city’s recommended committee is scheduled to hold the public consultation on the map at. 10 a.m. Nov. 29 inside the City Hall in downtown Las Vegas, 495 S. Main St.
Contact Shea Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.