Detroit City Council is set to reveal four draft maps for the city's new local-level districts Monday. The redistricting process is mandated under Detroit's new City Charter, which went into effect Jan. 1.
The charter calls for City Council members to be elected by districts, a rule residents approved in the 2009 vote that created the City Charter Commission. Council members will create seven districts following federal guidelines.
Data Driven Detroit is helping draft the maps. The seven districts must be roughly equal in population, but they must also ensure that minority communities are properly represented.
Four draft maps City Council President Charles Pugh shared with the Detroit Free Press show an eye toward creating at least one district that encompasses Southwest Detroit. Such a move might allow for the election of Detroit's first Latino City Council member.
Reuben Martinez, director of Michigan State University's Julian Zamora Research Institute, told HuffPost earlier this month that a Latino candidate has never a won a city-wide election in Detroit, with the exception of Judge Isidore Torres.
Other redistricting challenges include how to draw lines around downtown, and how the central business district will be included or split between neighborhoods.
At Monday's Committee of the Whole meeting, Council members discussed the maps and the best way to ensure minority representation while still adhering to the edicts of compactness and even population among districts.
Council Member JoAnn Watson brought up some oversights in census data that could affect representation for Detroit's Arab Americans. She noted Arab Americans are not counted separately in census data.
"Why would we rely only on that data base?" Watson asked.
Council Member Ken Cockrel agreed that the redistricting process should at least take a rough look at the location of Arab Americans in the city.
"There's no official federal government recognition of them, but we do generally know what parts of the city those individuals are located in," Cockrel said. "So are they all in the same district?"
Pugh raised concerns over splitting neighborhoods in the redistricting process. Staffers from the Planning Department said the city does not have a comprehensive neighborhood map, but they compared the subsectors identified under the city's current master plan to the new district maps.
City Council should vote to approve a redistricting map on or before Feb. 17, Pugh said.
See the maps below and let us know what you think in the comments.