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Township to change voting districts

| Thursday, March 7, 2002

Elizabeth Township officials have agreed to redistrict the municipality's voting wards and reduce by two the size of the board of commissioners.

The commissioners voted 6-1 with one abstention Monday to redistrict the voting wards and cut the size of the board from nine members to seven members. Commissioner Glenn Johnston voted against the measure because he said he wanted more information.

Commissioner Claire Bryce, who was appointed Monday to replace Richard Maha, abstained from voting. Commissioner Charles Carlock Jr. was absent.

Commissioner Ken McCracken previously said that he was willing to redistrict because the number of people in each of the voting districts is "very uneven."

The commission has turned over the responsibility of coming up with a redistricting plan to a committee.

Committee member Laurie MacDonald believes there is a need to address the voting district problems.

"I think it's great the commissioners agreed to reduce the number to seven," MacDonald said in a telephone interview. "It's appropriate that everybody be represented, and seven commissioners will ensure that equality."

MacDonald said most first-class townships like Elizabeth have five or seven commissioners.

"Nine is a little excessive. We will work to get a map together that pleases everyone," she said.

District Justice Ernest Marraccini, who chairs the committee, said the township has lost 6 percent of its population, going from 14,762 in the 1990 census to 13,877 in the 2000 census.

He said at the next election, when five commissioners are up for re-election, there will be four vacancies. In the following election, the other four commissioners will be up for re-election and there will be three vacancies. For two years, the board will have to operate with eight commissioners.

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