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Port Redistricting Pins Aldermen Against Each Other

Port Washington Common Council and Saukville Village Board approve new voting maps on Tuesday.

Changes in aldermanic district boundaries sparked by movement at the county level have positioned an incumbent vs. incumbent race for one seat on the Port Washington Common Council in the April 2012 election.

The new boundaries move Aldermen Burt Babcock, who represents the 4th District, and Paul Neumyer, who is in the 2nd District, in the same district, something city officials said there was no way to avoid. The terms of both aldermen expire in April and, if they each decide to seek re-election, they will have to run against each other.

Ozaukee County approved the revised supervisory districts in early May and gave municipalities 60 days to create ward and district plans, and present them to the county.

Ozaukee County's plan reduced the number of supervisory districts from 31 to 26, Port Washington City Administrator Mark Grams said.

Municipalities must base aldermanic districts on the boundaries of the supervisory districts to the best of their ability, Grams said. The way the county drew Port's map created three supervisory districts that are fully within the city, as well as one partial district that is shared with the Town of Port Washington and Town of Grafton.

In Port's plan, the city places two aldermanic districts in each of the three County Board districts that are totally within the city. There will be one aldermanic district within the County Board district that is partially located in Port, Grams said.

Silence hit the room during Tuesday's Common Council meeting when Mayor Scott Huebner looked for a motion to approve the redistricting plan that put Babcock or Neumyer in the same district.

Eventually, Alderman Dan Becker — who also sits on the County Board — spoke up.

The county's redistricting plan was based on information that Ozaukee residents were asking for smaller government, he said, and the drop in supervisory districts is how they made that happen.

"I do feel very confident with the work that was done by the staff, that it was done in a way that it was nonpartisan," he said.

Alderman Joe Dean then chimed in, pointing out that he has lost a spot on the County Board due to the redistricting — so he is able to sympathize with the Port aldermen.

"I think Port is very well served with both these aldermen … but I think it's something we have to pursue," he said.

Common Council voted, 5-2, to approve the redistricting plan, with Babcock and Neumyer opposing the change.

The council also voted to reduce the number of voting wards in the city from 11 to seven and to re-number the wards so that each one has the same number as the aldermanic district in which it is located.

For example, under the current boundaries, some aldermanic districts have two wards within their boundaries and the ward numbers don't correspond with the number of the district. That will change under the new boundaries, so that Ward 1, for example, is located in the 1st Aldermanic District.

The Saukville Village Board also approved a redistricting plan during its Tuesday night meeting. The new map draws ward boundaries so that each has a population between 300 and 1,000 people. While this doesn't change existing wards by much, Deputy Clerk Mary Kay Baumann said one new ward was created on the west side of the village to accommodate development in the area. 

New subdivisions, such as Hines Meadow and Emerald Hills, prompted the new ward. Currently has the ward has only 333 residents in it, but Baumann said the number is expected to increase as the subdivisions expand.

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