City Ordinance #1

Something else I found in the Council packet: the very first bit of lawmaking by the nascent City of Oklahoma City — then legally a village — on 22 July 1890. The ordinance set up four wards, as follows:

First Ward. The First Ward shall consist of all that portion lying east of the middle of Robinson Street and north of the middle of the first alley south of Main Street.

Second Ward. The Second Ward shall consist of all that portion lying west of the middle of Robinson Street and north of the middle of the first alley south of Main Street.

Third Ward. The Third Ward shall consist of all that portion lying west of the middle of Robinson Street and south of the middle of the first alley south of Main Street.

Fourth Ward. And the Fourth Ward shall consist of all that portion lying east of the middle of Robinson Street and south of the middle of the first alley south of Main Street.

This was proclaimed Ordinance No. One.

Interestingly, the document to which this was attached as an exhibit hints that the eight-ward system, adopted in 1966, might not have been graven in stone:

In 1990 a committee was formed to research several options for a twelve (12)-ward system. As a result of the committee’s work, an in-depth audit was conducted and possible boundaries were presented. The reasoning behind the study was to enable the council members to be more accessible to those they represent. The plan was not implemented at that time, and the issue has remained dormant.

Which, of course, leads to further questions: do we need twelve wards? Will Council Member So-and-so be “more accessible” if he has 45,000 constituents instead of 67,500? And how much gerrymandering can we expect if new lines are to be drawn?

My thinking, in order: not necessarily; not necessarily; probably a hell of a lot.





3 comments

  1. Mike »

    14 September 2006 · 1:32 pm

    I believe the large geographic area of Oklahoma city warrants an increased number of council members. While I am more familiar with Norman government – 8 wards covering a total population of around 100,000 in a much smaller area – I can see no real advantage over the years to having had fewer council members. From my observation of Norman and Oklahoma City councils workings, more representation per capita can indeed result in more responsive and less good old boy decision making.

  2. CGHill »

    14 September 2006 · 9:25 pm

    The ultimate, I suppose, would be the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which has 400 members, each of whom represents around 3000 people.

  3. MikeH »

    15 September 2006 · 11:59 am

    At least that should make it a little harder on lobbyists.

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