By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post
Lebanon City Council voted on first reading an ordinance to realign the current six ward structure of the citys governing panel at Tuesday nights regular meeting after a work session earlier spurred an emotional debate between councilors about possibly moving to eight wards or reworking the current six.
The vote was 5-1 in favor of realigning the wards with Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath voting against the proposal.
Id like to formally apologize to my constituents, I have a very large area and a large population, Ill do the best I can, she said.
Lebanon Mayor Philip Craigheads plan of having eight wards drew little support, except from Warmath, who felt the plan alleviated the population growth in her ward.
We do not need to leave a 32-percent disparity in population between our wards, Craighead noted, referring to the current populations.
From left, Ward 1 Lebanon City Councilor Alex Buhler, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston, Ward 3 Councilor Rob Cesternino and Mayor Philip Craighead discuss plans to change the citys council wards.
Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler said he opposed the creation of two wards due to the fact that one ward, the proposed seventh ward, would stretch from the east boundary of Wilson County to the west.
Craighead felt eight wards moved the city closer to an even population distribution and helped plan for future growth. He also noted the Public Square was divided between three council members.
Its setting up things for the future and thats what Im looking for, the mayor said.
He also said he knew of many people who wanted to run for the council, but said they would have to wait another two years until Wards 3, 4 and 6 were up for re-election.
Buhler said two new wards were not necessary for people to run for a council seat and participate in government.
In two years, those people will have the opportunity to run, he said.
Craighead pointed out having two new council members would cost the city between $40,000 to $50,000 a year.
Ward 5 Councilor Haywood Barry said the money could be better spent elsewhere.
That could pave a lot of streets and it could someday give our employees a raise, Barry said.
Currently, the six wards have an average population of 4,300 people per ward and the possible eight-ward organization would reduce the average to 3,274 per ward. Craighead said the reorganization of the six wards would help get the council to a more even population, reducing the numbers in some while increasing population in others.
Warmath said the realignment accomplished nothing and noted that plan showed no change concerning her ward. She said no other ward has development like hers and criticized the council members for not being open-minded.
Youve got your mind made up, theres not one open-minded person here, she said during the work session.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.