Every 10 years, following the federal census, Marysville City Council reviews the city’s wards and makes changes if needed. That process took place recently. Monday, council approved a first reading of the new ward boundaries. Above are the proposed new wards.
At Monday night’s meeting, Marysville City Council looked at its immediate future and its long-term future.
Council began with the nomination and appointment of Mark Reams as council president. Under the city charter, the council president also serves as mayor.
Henk Berbee was appointed as vice president of council.
Reams served as president of council last year.
“I am looking forward to serving one more year and only one more year,” Reams said after accepting the position.
Council member J.R. Rausch had served as vice president of council last year. Rausch, along with council members Deb Groat and Alan Seymour, was not at the meeting, though all were excused.
Council also heard the first reading of legislation to alter the four wards in the city. City council is made up of four ward council members and three at-large members that represent the entire city.
City charter directs council to evaluate the council wards after the federal census.
Reams said that with the existing wards, the population is “not very well balanced, partially because of growth in the city in different areas since the last time we did this.”
Following the census, Reams sat down with the city IT staff and looked at the council wards.
“The goal was to come up with a map that was a more even distribution of the population,” Reams said, adding that he also tried to not split any of the city’s existing voting precincts.
Reams gave an option to council members and “based on some discussion, we went back a second time and came up with a second option.”
Reams presented both options to council in November. He said the option being finalized is one preferred by council members.
He said the new wards are “much more balanced.”
In the legislation, Ward 2 will be the smallest with 4,032 residents and Ward 4 would be the largest with 4,306. Currently, Ward 2 is the largest with 5,247 residents and Ward 3 is the smallest with 2,919.
He added that “each of these wards has room for growth.”
Reams said that is important because council cannot come back and adjust the wards between censuses.
“They aren’t landlocked so hopefully in 10 years we aren’t too far out of whack,” Reams said.
Reams said an annexation would be “the only other adjustment we could make.”
He said that if newly annexed property abuts two precincts, “we will probably have to make a decision on which of the two it would fit, but I don’t recall having to deal with that the last 10 years.”
Council member Aaron Carpenter, who represents Ward 1, said he has traveled and met most of the residents.
“I am a little sad to see that I will be losing the southern part when this goes through because I really like the people there,” Carpenter said. “But, I understand we have to redo the wards and I think what is presented is a good compromise that I think makes sense and I do appreciate that we are not splitting up Mill Valley as was proposed at one time. I appreciate that.”
Council member Donald Boerger, who represents Ward 4, said he has had “lengthy discussions” with Reams about the Green Pastures neighborhood.
“As a first-time council member, it is hard for me to lose such a section of my ward,” Boerger said.
He said he is agreeing with the plan, “because I know that it is for the benefit of Marysville long after I am long gone.”
Boerger said his ward was “unique” because it includes the oldest sections of the city as well as Green Pastures, which he called, “one of the nicest neighborhoods in our city.”
“I felt like I had a good mix,” Boerger said. “I have renters and preservationists and I also have the empty nesters and the homes that used to be their parents and now they are moving back from college.”
Boerger said that as the city grows, he would like future councils to consider “income diversity and those kind of things, not just population.”
Emery said he is eager to continue working with Reams as mayor and is “just anxious to watch the evolution” of the wards.
“We are really glad that our IT department was able to help gather some information for city council to work with,” Emery said.
“That was a huge help,” Reams said. “In the past I was such a time-consuming ordeal. It took forever to calculate things manually — count population, count houses, draw lines manually.”
He said in the past, the first option was generally the only choice.
“It took too long just to come up with one option,” Reams said. “Here we were able to come up with two options, look at that and kind of settle in on something that worked well.”
The new wards will take effect 30 days after the final reading.