Commission, BOE discuss redistricting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Staff Writer

A Monday afternoon meeting between Pike County commissioners and Pike County school board members turned into a heated debate over district lines.

Members of both boards met to discuss redistricting as time ticks away to the deadline.

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Rusty Hamm of the South Central Alabama Development Commission said he was presenting "the best scenario" after "many hours" of work on the maps.

Now, members of both boards either have to come to a compromise or divide into their own districts.

Currently, the Pike County Board of Education and the Pike County Commission use the same district lines.

It will take at least month before action can be taken because a two-week notice must be given prior to a public hearing and another two-week notice prior to a vote being taken by the commission and board of education. The district maps must be presented to the Justice Department for approval 180 before qualifying begins, which means a plan must be adopted no later than Jan. 17.

Most of the discussion Monday was about District 4.

Linda Steed, who represents District 4 on the BOE, said the map she saw yesterday was the first.

"What gives you the right to get what you want and we don’t have a say," Steed asked commissioners, in particular Charlie Harris.

Steed said she was not going to be "ramrodded."

Harris said he was "satisfied" and his proposed district was not going to change.

Commissioner Willie Thomas, who represents District 1, said everyone needs to work with the "spirit of cooperation" to draw district lines.

Steed pointed out the BOE can draw its own map, which board members would prefer not to do because of the confusion to voters.

"We’ve got to come to some closure," said Commission Chairwoman Karen Berry.

Steed warned her fellow board members to speak now.

"Now’s the time to say what you’ve got to say," Steed said. "You will know the difference when you get to the polls and will wish you had."

The BOE and commissioners will meet again at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17.