Yesterday I wrote about statewide redistricting. Just minutes after I published that post I remembered that the County Commission was taking the issue up for discussion. So I jumped in on the stream and gave it a listen.
By the time I got there, the discussion was winding down, but based on what I was hearing it seemed they were talking about two scenarios: one with 13 single member districts, another with 6 2 member districts and 1 single member district.
I’m not exactly sure what the affinity is in this county for multi-member districts or mixing multi-member districts and single member districts. Like I said, I missed most of the discussion and it’s not posted online as of this writing, so, I’ll just have to wait.
There’s one thing I have to give the Commission credit for: they started with maps. Two of them to be exact, unlike the City Council debacle.
One thing I did hear was that the maps were based on census information gained on April 1, 2011, which basically confirmed to me that Alan Wade was either lying or in way over his head when he said he was having trouble matching up the data back on June 7th . Either way, that process was unacceptable.
All that aside, this has to be resolved by the end of the year. I couldn’t find the statute, because the new TN Code site really sucks (I found it and bookmarked it on the old site, which no longer exists), but the crux of what I heard was that they had to have this done by December 31.
Of course, that doesn’t mean its over. In August of next year there will be a newly elected County Commissioner that will, I’m sure, not want to have to run head-to-head against any other County Commissioner. This will likely mean some changes will be made to the districts no matter what they approve in the next three meetings.
What’s more, if rumors are to be believed (and I’m not saying they should) there could be another vacancy in the next 12 months meaning there would be another new member that, once again, wouldn’t want to have to run against one of their colleagues, causing yet another shifting of the lines.
So in reality, while this may seem like something now, the decisions of this process aren’t necessarily set in stone. They just have to have something done on it by the end of the year.
The next regularly scheduled election isn’t until 2014, so there’s plenty of time for folks to jockey for position.
I have long believed that single member districts would benefit the County. Of course, I’ve also stated that I think 13 members for a county of 927,000 people is too few. The County Commission can consider drawing districts for as many as 25 members. While I think going to 25 may be disruptive at this point, expanding by two, as they did in the 1994 redistricting process, may be an intermediate step to getting to more direct representation. Doing so would bring the district sizes just below that of a State Representative.
Something to consider.
In any case, the Commission will take up this issue on Monday. The ordinance will have to be read and approved three times before it law. Also, I believe a 2/3 vote will be required on final passage, but I may have misheard that. I fully expect that additional maps and scenarios will be brought up in the coming meetings, though there can be no changes between the second and third readings for this to go into effect.
I’ll be keeping my eye out, and post more when the discussion is available online.