Lander ward map discussion has no impact on elections, officials say

The City of Lander is planning to update its municipal ward map, but officials say the change has no impact on local elections.

“The timing is bizarre,” city attorney Adam Phillips said during a Lander City Council meeting this week, referring to the 2022 election cycle. “(But) I don’t think this was in any way motivated at eliminating anybody from voting (or) running for any election.

“This is to fix our ordinance.”

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Old ordinance

Lander’s three wards were established by an ordinance that passed in 1963, Phillips said.

That ordinance says the ward maps are supposed to be updated after every 10 years, after the U.S. census count is completed – but Phillips said “we never did that.”

“So everything is outdated since 1963,” he said. “(It) needs to be updated.”

Councilmember Missy White said she has heard concerns from residents wondering whether the update would affect their ballots, or the elected positions they could seek.

“None of that changes,” she said. “Our election system is following what the county clerk has established, and they’ve been updating it as new neighborhoods are added. So in terms of the upcoming election, absolutely nothing is changing.”

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The Fremont County Clerk administers municipal elections for the city, and Phillips said “the goal is to work in concert with the county and what they have.”

“We don’t want to change anything,” he said.

Phillips confirmed that “the goal is to work in concert with the county and what they have.”

“We don’t want to change anything,” he said.

Hold off

Regardless, Councilmember Melinda Cox said it might be prudent to hold off on updating the ward map until after the elections, in order to avoid creating confusion among voters.

“I agree,” Councilmember John Larsen said. “I think it’s very, very, very important that we realize that there’s nothing nefarious that’s taking place. … I don’t have any problem waiting until after the election and then running this through.”

Phillips said staff doesn’t “really care when you guys adopt this – it just needs to be cleaned up at some point.”

The council did not take any action on the ward map discussion during Tuesday’s meeting.

For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.

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