Council OKs new districts

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2001

Staff Writer

Troy City Council members approved a redistricting plan Thursday night during a brief meeting.

After having nobody offer opposition to the plan, council members voted 4-0 to pass the ordinance that sets the city’s council districts for the next 10 years. Councilman José Henderson, who voiced the most concern about an earlier plan was not present at the meeting yesterday afternoon.

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Two weeks ago, the council held a public hearing, but Henderson’s opposition to the plan presented at that time made it necessary for adjustments and more public hearings.

Henderson’s opposition of the earlier plan did not meet what he wanted regarding the minority population. With the new map, he will have a district with about a 78-percent minority population.

The plan that got final approval will have 2,720 residents in District 1, which is represented by Henderson. District 2, represented by Charles Meeks, has a total population of 2,874. Jason Reeves will represent 2,794 in District 3. John Witherington will have 2,804 residents in District 4. Wanda Moultry’s district will have a total population of 2,742 with 74 percent of the residents being minorities.

The "ideal" population per district was 2,787, Troy Mayor Jimmy 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.

Moultry said she was happy with the plan.

"My main concern was making sure all the constituents of District 5 are represented," Moultry said, adding she wanted to be assured the minority population would not be diluted. "Almost 74 percent would guarantee that if people get out and vote."

During a telephone conversation, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, who was not at the meeting because of his sister’s death, said he was pleased with the council’s action.

"I’m pleased we got a plan passed and can, now, send it to the Justice Department."

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

Witherington, who is the council president, said there were "slight changes" in Districts 1, 2 and 5.

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

Under Alabama Code, the mayor must present a plan to council members no later than six months after the census figures are certified. 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.