As part of its home rule charter, the city is required to review the charter at least every six years after the first charter was adopted in 2008. A charter review commission consisting of one council member from each ward and one community member from each ward is being put together.
“[The commission] will go over that with a fine-tooth comb, basically,” Roanoke Mayor Scooter Gierisch said. “And then once that is done, the council can act on [the recommendations]. But until then, we can have to sit back and wait for that process to evolve.”
According to the charter, each ward is expected to have a population within 10% of each other to maintain a balanced ratio. The commission will use the latest census numbers to determine whether redistricting will be necessary, Gierisch said.
“It would just simply change whom [the residents are] represented by in the specific ward if an adjustment is made—and there quite possibly may not be an adjustment, because we could very well be within the 10% with the new numbers that have come out,” he said.
City Manager Scott Campbell said the process had begun prior to the pandemic but had to be halted.
The last review of the charter was in 2014, and no changes were called for.
The charter states that any major amendments to the charter, or any redistricting, will have to be presented before the voters in the form of an election.