On Thursday, October 7th, I received an email from our county email system with the new council district lines that had recently been re-drawn. I was told that the meetings were posted on the county website, but I wouldn’t have known that because I do not get on that website. I was concerned that the lines were re-drawn in a fashion that brings District 3 all the way down to Highways D and DD including Weldon Springs Nature Preserve and August A Busch Preserve, while at the same time pushing District 2 north of Highway 70 into a suburban area along with Lake St. Louis north of Highway 64 to Highway 70, gathering a large portion of suburban voters. (District 2 is currently basically from just past the bridge from Chesterfield into St. Charles County, and everything south of 40/61 to 70, west to Warren County.) My concern is that this dilutes the rural representation of people living in a rural area.
When I called other council members, they explained that Mr. Ehlmann had called them prior to releasing the map to verify they were on board with this; this was concerning since no one at any time called me. I then called our Director of Elections and was told there was a map proposed that would have included mostly rural voters and would have extended District 2 into eastern Weldon Springs but the District 3 Councilman did not want Weldon Springs removed from his area of representation.
The public hearing was on Tuesday, October 12th, so I asked our council secretary to send me the meeting minutes and maps that were discussed at the re-districting committee meetings. (The re-districting committee is appointed by Steve Ehlmann consisting of 3-republicans and 3 democrats.) Those minutes were not available on the website. Copies must be requested from the county registrar’s office.
After receiving the meeting minutes, I noticed there were no notes of the content of the meeting, except that discussions took place outside of public forum. There were no public comments. On October 12, I asked for our council not to approve the proposed resolution for re-districting and to place it back on the agenda for the next meeting which would allow further conversations to take place and allow a better opportunity for public comments. The Council instead voted to accept the existing map. Those in favor of accepting the resolution on re-districting were Mike Elam, Nancy Schneider, Terry Hollander, & Dave Hammond.
I feel these new district lines dilute the representation of rural citizens and that the meetings and proposed changes were not widely publicized. Also, the map that was provided as part of the public hearing notice was of poor quality. It was nearly impossible to determine what roads or other boundaries had been followed in drawing the new district borders and therefore misleading. These new boundaries take approximately 753 rural area voters and lump them into a largely urban area where their voices will be diluted. Additionally, if those 753 voters had remained in District 2, the total voters in District 2 would still be less than any other council district in the county.
I have fought long and hard to retain and preserve the rural area of St. Charles County to the best of my ability, and have butted heads with other council members and county staff on numerous occasions, on growth and other topics. Most recently we’ve been at odds over mask mandates and quarantines.
I believe the new District 2 and 3 boundaries are politically motivated to hit back at me and are not in the best interest of the affected voters.
St. Charles County Council District 2Click here to view the current St. Charles County Council Districts Map
Click here to view the proposed St. Charles County Council Districts Map.
*Watch the most recent county council meeting here: St. Charles County Council Meeting: October 12, 2021 - YouTube