CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston city leaders are discussing giving Johns Island more representation on City Council. Councilmembers expressed mixed opinions on redistricting during a council workshop Tuesday, while residents say change is needed.
City officials say explosive growth seen on Daniel Island and Johns Island has created the need for change in the city council’s representation. City leaders are considering a couple of options to address the problem.
Residents link John Zlogar, who serves as Chairman of the Johns Island task force hopes the answer will come sooner rather than later.
“Year after year, our population grew, but we were still relegated to the children’s table while the rest of the city had their 12 seats at the big table,” says Zlogar.
The City of Charleston’s population increased by 25% over the last ten years. Johns Island saw a larger change in population, growing by 154%. People who live there say they want to be able to give more input.
“It’s that obvious to Johns Island, and it should be that obvious as well to council members that there should be one district on Johns Island,” says Zlogar.
City Council is considering a handful of options, including eliminating a district on the peninsula to move to Johns Island. Another option; bringing Johns Island into neighboring council districts or a mixture of both. The end goal for officials is equal representation across the board.
“We made sure that Daniel Island and Cainhoy got two representatives, Johns Island got two representatives, and the peninsula loses just one, says Councilman Peter Shahid.
Councilman Keith Waring says it’s a necessary move as growth is expected to continue in and around Johns Island.
“I will vote for the people of Johns Island; you know a representative who lives on Johns Island will bring the voice of the people,” says Councilman Waring.
Others disagree with the notion, including Councilwoman Caroline Parker, who says the area could have representation if someone decided to run for office.
“I understand you Johns Island, I totally hear you, but someone from Johns Island could always run,” says Councilwoman Parker.
People who provided feedback to a survey, like Zlogar, seem unsure of the solution but agree stronger representation is needed.
“Of those, 86%, over 86% wanted a single district on Johns Island,” says Zlogar.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says City Council plans to hold a public hearing on redistricting at next week’s city council meeting. Mayor Tecklenburg noted during Tuesday’s meeting that action could happen depending on the discussion.