A slightly bigger horseshoe

Oklahoma City had 4,151 people in 1890, and was divided into four wards. (The popular histories say 10,000 showed up for the Land Run, but that was in the spring of ’89 — and between then and the 1890 Census was a little something called “winter.”)

The four wards remained intact until 1966, at which time the city went to an eight-ward system, mostly because it had been annexing land left and right. The city is actually slightly smaller now in terms of area, but the population has nearly doubled in the 48 years since then, and way back in 2006 Ward 4 Councilman Pete White was saying he’d like to see a 10-ward system.

It’s now 2014, Pete White is still representing Ward 4, and City Council will hold an unusual Wednesday meeting to take up the idea of adding two wards. If Council doesn’t act, White says he’s ready to start an initiative petition to get it on the municipal ballot.

Tulsa, with two-thirds the population, has a nine-ward system. When I brought this up in ’06, Tulsa political blogger Michael Bates said:

At the last census, Tulsa had about 43,000 people per council district, which is still too big in my opinion. A district for representation at the city level ought be no bigger than a district for representation at the state level.

The state has 3.8 million people and 101 House districts; to match up with this scheme, we’d need sixteen wards, which strikes me as an unwieldy number.


  1. Roger Green »

    7 January 2014 · 6:27 pm

    Charlotte, NC has annexed a LOT. Makes a place unwieldy. I understand the tax base rationale, but it challenges the sense of HERE – know what I mean?

  2. CGHill »

    7 January 2014 · 7:41 pm

    Yeah. You wonder how Charlotte gets 800,000 people into 300 square miles — and then look at NYC, with 8 million in the same space.

    Then again, I shouldn’t talk. (We have 600k people here in 600 square miles.)

  3. John Sauler »

    10 January 2014 · 9:29 pm

    Smaller wards might help. The lesser populated areas might have a better chance to get things repaired. ie:City Streets. Lord know anything southwest of the airport is turrable. My parents live off of 74t and Council and I need a 4 wheel drive to get there nowadays. Then again nobody is as special as downtown.

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