City News

Salem City Council chooses new ward boundaries that plan for future growth in west, south Salem

Screengrab of the third map proposed for new ward boundaries. Current wards are outlined in black; new boundaries are shown in color.

In a near unanimous vote on Monday night, the Salem City Council chose to re-draw ward boundaries in a way that will accommodate for future growth in the next decade.

By a 7-1 vote, the council chose a map which will allow south and west Salem to grow without the populations in each ward becoming too disproportionate in the coming years.

Councilor Jim Lewis was the sole nay vote and Councilor Vanessa Nordyke was absent.

The wards are re-drawn every decade following the Census to keep the number of people in each council ward roughly equal as some parts of Salem have grown more quickly than others.

Ward boundaries determine which city councilor represents which area of Salem. The new map will be in effect for city council elections in 2022.

In the map the council adopted, known as “alternative three,” the wards that cover northeast, east, south and west Salem are all below the target population. Councilors picked that map from three possible choices.

Councilor Jim Lewis said he was in favor of option one without a third bridge across the Willamette River. Alternative one proposed the fewest changes to the current wards.


“Frankly, I could live with any one of them. They’re all fine options,” Councilor Chris Hoy said.

He said he found the third choice most attractive because it planned for future growth.

Under the newly adopted map, Ward 1 will have the highest population at 22,796. It currently encompasses downtown and the eastern portion of west Salem.

A staff report provided to councilors explains that if downtown has significant residential development in the next decade, it will exceed the target population.

Several public comments asked that west Salem have only one ward. Currently Wards 1 and 8 cover the portion of the city west of the Willamette River. Before the wards were redrawn a decade ago, west Salem had a single ward.

Lisa Anderson-Ogilvie, Salem planning administrator, said west Salem has grown so much that today it would be 35% over the target population if it was its own ward.

She said it’s difficult to match up the wards with each neighborhood association, because they don’t necessarily align with Census blocks.

Councilor Virginia Stapleton, who represents Ward 1, said having a councilor represent both sides of the river make west Salem less of an island.

“It kind of seems like it knits it back into the city of Salem in a way that maybe the river just divides us a little bit. And so having Ward 1 be on both sides of the river to me really helps make us a cohesive city,” she said.

Under the changes:

Ward 1 expands north up Northwest Wallace Road to Glenn Creek and west to Northwest Kingwood Drive. 

Ward 2 moves east along the northern portion of Highway 22, which is currently part of ward 3.

Ward 3 would move into Ward 7, west to South Liberty Road and south to Southeast Hrubetz Road

Ward 4 would get smaller with Ward 7 taking a portion of Kuebler Boulevard to the west and Ward 3 taking a portion east of Interstate 5.

Ward 5 expands south to Northeast Highland Avenue west to Northeast Cherry Avenue.

Ward 6 would expand south to Northeast Center Street.

Ward 7 expands east to Southeast Lone Oak Road and South Liberty Road.

By the numbers

Largest ward – Ward 1 at 22,796 people

Smallest ward – Ward 7 at 21,031 people

Whitest ward – Ward 7 at 80.2%

Ward with the largest Hispanic/Latino population – Ward 6 at 47%

Fewest kids – Ward 2 with 81.7% of residents above the age of 18

Most kids – Ward 5 with 71.7% of residents above the age of 18

The new boundaries are expected to go into effect early next year. Feb. 7 is the last day county clerks can revise voter precincts in time for May primary election. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] 

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