Madison County Board Rejects Prenzler's Plan To Decrease The Number Of Seats On Board
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
The Madison County Board voted down a redistricting map proposed by County Chairman Kurt Prenzler Wednesday night, one day after the plan was heavily criticized by county board members.
The redistricting map presented by Prenzler would reduce the number of districts in the county — and seats on the board — from 29 to 25.
On Tuesday night, Democrat and Republican board members alike said the new map would reduce representation and make it harder for candidates to run for office without financial backing.
There are 18 Republicans and 11 Democrats sitting on the Madison County Board.
“I think we need 29 members. I can’t vote for anything other than 29,” Democrat member Jack Minner said Wednesday. “I think it will lessen the service we can give, and I don’t think it saves that much money.”
Board members said Monday night that a 25-member board would have to handle the same amount of work and committee meetings as the 29-member board takes on.
The Madison County Board has the maximum number of board members allowed by law who represent about 263,000 people.
The county board votes every 10 years on adjusting district lines to reflect population changes based on the newest census data. The 2020 Census results were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prenzler’s proposed map is based on the assumption that the county will shrink in population. In 2019, Madison County had about 263,000, down from 269,000 in 2010.
Under Prenzler’s order, Madison County entered into a $4,500 contract with the University of Illinois Geographic Information Systems Lab at Springfield to draw the new redistricting map.
An alternate map was presented Monday by Republican board member Chris Guy of Maryville, who chairs the Government Relations Committee.
Additional proposals to redistrict Madison County will be considered.
All board members’ terms expire next year. An entirely new board will be elected in the new district lines if and when a new map is approved by the board.
Megan Valley is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.