BELOIT - With last week's city elections in the books, of 14 total representatives for city council and school board only two members reside on the West Side while 12 call the East Side home.
An independent survey by the Beloit Daily News of where members of the Beloit City Council and Beloit Board of Education live found the West Side far outnumbered by the East Side. Mark Preuschl is the only city councilor living west of the Rock River, while Kyle Larsen is the only member of the school board residing on the West Side.
The highest concentration of city representatives reside in the northeast part of Beloit.
In fact, the West Side has more elected members serving on the Rock County Board of Supervisors than it has combined representatives for the city council and school board. The West Side has three county supervisors - members elected on a by-district basis according to population - compared to just two representatives on city governmental boards.
Currently, Beloit elects city and school officials on an at-large basis which allows residents from anywhere in the city limits to run for office, rather than seeking to represent specific districts.
Municipalities across Wisconsin have a mix of systems, with either aldermanic representation (by ward or district) or representation at-large. In an aldermanic system those elected must represent and live in specific areas designated by ward maps.
Curt Witynski, deputy executive director of the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, was not sure how many communities operated with one system or another.
But he did say statutes are in place leaning towards mostly by-district representation, with most cities and villages having people elected via wards or districts, while cities with city manager forms of government have "gone in different directions."
"That's the beauty of local control," Witynski said. "Communities can design their forms of government and how they elect people and what they think is best for their community."
Beloit City Council President Kevin Leavy could not be reached for comment.
Council Vice President Regina Dunkin said the council has a "responsibility...to do what is best for the entire city.
"When making decisions we don't put any specific area over another," Dunkin said. "The city as a whole is important. If it was brought to the council's attention that there was support to change the terms from at-large to by-district representation, we would consider that option."
School Board President Pam Charles said she supported having school board meetings at different locations across the city "if it was needed," but said the idea had been tried three years ago to little impact.
Charles stressed the school board would continue to host two joint meetings annually with the city council, one of which took place last month at Beloit Public Library.
"School board members represent all students and all community members," Charles said. "I have never served with a board member who did not want the best for all of Beloit's students. Our community is very diverse, on the West side as well as the East. We are one district, and policies are written for all schools and all students, not just for a certain group or neighborhood. The qualifications of the candidates and their commitment to the role is what's important."