ST. PETERSBURG — The Redistricting Commission is drawing new boundaries for the City Council and wants to hear from residents during a public hearing tonight.
The commission is meeting weekly to devise new boundaries. So far, the group has examined eight possible maps, but have whittled the choices to three. Recommendations must be sent to the council by Feb. 15. The City Council must finalize the process by May 12.
Four City Council seats are up for grabs this year.
Darden Rice, president of the League of Women Voters of St. Petersburg, and David McKalip, a local neurosurgeon and activist, both attended last week's meeting.
McKalip and Rice live blocks from each other in District 4. Both are possible candidates for the seat because term limits prevent council member Leslie Curran from running again.
Two of the three maps favored by the commission move Rice and McKalip out of the district.
Rice is skeptical of the choices and plans to say as much at the public hearing.
"My self-interest is tattooed on my forehead," she said.
Since the city lost 4,000 residents in the 2010 census, every council boundary will be redrawn to include between 29,984 and 31,208 residents. Council members used to adjust the boundaries, but voters in 2011 approved a charter amendment to create a commission.
Mayor Bill Foster and the eight council members appointed the nine-member commission.
McKalip has lambasted the commission and city staffers on his blog, sunbeamtimes.com. City staffers, he said, should come up with more choices, even if it moves council members out of their districts. The commission and staffers, McKalip said, are catering to politicians.
Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.