City Redistricting: “from” debate continues

Crystal Spencer, chairman of the Charter Commission that wrote the new city charter, says that the intent was for the member of the Redistricting Commission to be a resident of the district so that each district has representation.

She sent the following email on April 11 to Council President Maren Deweese:

Subject: RE: Charter Language with regard to Districting Commission

I have reviewed the language of Section 6.08 (b) of the Charter. Additionally, I have reviewed the Model City Charter, Jacksonville Charter, Tampa Charter, Hialeah Charter and St. Petersburg Charter. The bulk of the language came from the Model City Charter and is almost verbatim with the exception of paragraph (1). After reviewing this language and the other charters, I recall that the discussion related to the intent of the commission being that each single district would be fully represented by an appointee to the Districting Commission. The language of our charter is mandatory and uses “shall”. Further the language is not ambiguous and states that the City Council “shall appoint one (1) member from each of the seven (7) Council districts of the city” (emphasis added). The language is clear and is consistent with the intent, that each district shall have representation.

From – point of origin – Black’s Law Dictionary (note Black’s also says that the term when used in a contract is to be given meaning to which reason and sense entitle it).

Please let me know if you have additional questions. I can likely pin point the meeting where this was discussed and thus, there would be video supporting the intent. Again, the language is clear so I don’t think you have to get to “intent”. Reason and sense would tell you that the Districting Commission will have 1 resident district representative per district for a total of 7 members. The entire City Council votes on each member of the Commission, not just the representative from that district.


The consultant to Charter Commission, Robert Friedman, sent Spencer this email about his recollections:


My recollection is that the subject of residency requirements for office/appointments was extensively considered and debated on several occasions. Further, I recall that the majority of the Commission consistently argued and voted in favor of a residency requirement for elected and appointed positions, including the Districting Commission. The word “from” was understood to explicitly require that each District would be represented by someone with a current residency in “each” of the seven districts, assuring fair and equal representation for each, and all of the seven districts.

I’m certain that said discussions could be found on video records on file.

Bob Freedman