Scott Wagner knew from the start of his campaign that the city's council redistricting could affect him personally.
Wagner is gunning to replace termed out 1st District At-large Councilwoman Deb Hermann. Wagner lives in the Indian Mound neighborhood north of Independence Avenue and is the president of its neighborhood association. He's rallied his neighbors to support the concept of a Northeast Community Center to be built in the area, and spearheaded efforts to improve residents' usage of Budd Park. A city council run makes sense, given his experience with neighborhood issues.
But to serve the 1st District, Wagner has to live in the 1st District. Now, redistricting threatens to shift his neighborhood's council
The city's Redistricting Committee is currently devising a plan to redraw the boundaries of several council districts in response to the growth spurt of populations north of the river. The 1st District must redistribute approximately 14,000 people, and the 2nd District (which includes downtown) needs to lose about 8,800. Current population estimates suggest that some neighborhoods north of Independence Avenue, including Indian Mound, will no longer be in the 1st District when the dust settles. Though the whole redistricting issue may not be decided for some time, Wagner opted not to base his campaign on shaky ground.
He broke the news to his fellow association officers and active members
in an e-mail last week. In September, Wagner, his wife Laura, and their two young sons will move north of the river, where they can be sure to
remain in the 1st District no matter what happens. One of Laura's
co-workers will rent the Wagner's home, and as a property owner, he can remain active in the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association.
"We're trying hard to make redistricting irrelevant to both what I'm
trying to do with running for City Council and with what we're trying to do in
the neighborhood," Wagner says. "We
decided we've made such a commitment to people over the last year in
terms of running that the greater shame would be if we just decided we
had to give up, to stop everything entirely."
Wagner stepped away from his PR position with Fasone & Partners at the beginning of the year, and he plans to move the offices of his own business, Wagner Marketing, to the building that currently houses the Northeast News. Now, he says, he's concentrating on finding people to take the lead on projects he started, like the Budd Park Committee and a plan for a new community center.
"I wasn't going to let a little thing like redistricting mess up what I'm trying to do," Wagner says. "Long-term, we knew we needed to get multiple people working on multiple things, to get people engaged. The idea is, this brings front-and-center the issue that we have: to find people who want to work on these issues. Despite all these things we have to endure at
the moment, we're just going to keep on going."