Mayor presents districts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Staff Writer

During a meeting that lasted about an hour, Troy City Council members hashed out differences during a public hearing held to officially reveal the proposed council districts.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford formally presented a redistricting plan to council members during a public hearing held Tuesday night. Under Alabama Code, the mayor must present a plan to council members no later than six months after the census figures are certified. Council members must, now, make their final decision.

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Troy Council President Johnny Witherington said the "sole purpose" of Tuesday’s meeting was to get public input, but it was mainly leaders who were in attendance.

"There’s been a great deal of work done," Witherington said before turning the meeting over to the mayor.

Under the plan presented, District 1, which is represented by José Henderson, will have 2,719 residents; District 2, represented by Charles Meeks, has a total population of 2,843; Jason Reeves will represent 2,794 people in District 3; John Witherington will have 2,857 residents in District 4; District 5, which is represented by Wanda Moultry, has a total population of 2,720.

The "ideal" population per district was 2,787, Lunsford said when highlighting points used in the decision-making process, including a 10-percent deviation, meaning not more or less than 5 percent.

Other things that must be considered when redrawing districts include: not diluting those districts with minority strengths, not moving a council member out of the district he or she represents and making sure everything is contiguous.

Henderson, who represents one of the minority districts, is not pleased with the current plan.

"Both minority districts are dropping 6 percent," Henderson said during the public hearing.

He said he is "not comfortable" with the boundary in the area of Barron Road, which separates his district from the one represented by Moultry.

"I’m not going to give up any of my district," Henderson said.

All districts are based on population and the number of registered voters in that district has no bearing on changes.

City Clerk Alton Starling said Districts 1 and 5 had to be expanded and everything was done to keep the current districts as intact as possible

After the council gives its approval, that plan will be presented to the Justice Department, which has the final say in the matter.

"We want to move on this as rapidly as we can, but we do have some time," Lunsford said.

Since the council was re-elected last year, it does not actually have to submit a plan to the Justice Department for some time.

The South Central Alabama Development Commission drew the maps at no cost to the city.