Petition filed against redistricting

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2002

News Editor

Pike County resident Jeff Baker has filed a petition in the Pike County Circuit Clerk’s office disputing the redistricting plan recently approved by the Pike County Commission.

The petition asserts that the commission revised district lines to dilute voting power and prevent choices and other possibilities from having a majority vote in the districts of residency.

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Baker, who spoke at a public hearing held prior to the Jan. 21 meeting during which the new districts were approved, is disputing the moving of Baker Road from district five to district four. Charlie Harris is the district five commissioner and Ray Goodson is the district four commissioner.

Baker, who ran against Harris in the last election,

asserts that Harris and Goodson are both trying to get rid of political opponents. Terry Sneed, who opposed Goodson in the last election, will be moved from district four to district five if the new district lines are approved by the Justice Department.

"I believe Commissioner Goodson and Harris are trying to cut our their competition," said Baker. "I ran against Harris in the last election and almost beat him. Mr. Sneed ran against Mr. Goodson and had a pretty strong showing as well," he said before Monday’s meeting.

According to the 2000 Census results, the commission was required to draw new district lines. Because districts two and five lacked enough people to remain above the required 70 percent needed to complete a district, the district lines had to be redrawn to include parts of districts four and six.

Both Commissioner Goodson and Commissioner Harris dispute Baker’s claims that they are trying to move their opponents from their districts.

"Enough people in the districts with large minority populations did not sign up for the census," said Commissioner Harris about the redistricting. "Therefore we had to do some redistricing where the largest minority residences were."

Goodson said he voted against the measure because he did not want to lose any people from his district. "I welcome Mr. Baker into district four," he said.

After the commission voted to approve the measure, Baker handed Commission Chairperson Karen Berry a copy of the petition he said he planned to file with the Circuit Clerk if the commission voted to approve the submission of the new districts to the Justice Department.

Thursday, Berry said, "The commission was obligated to adopt the proposed map because of the results of the Census. I lost several people in my district because of the changes, and I don’t like to lose constituents. Commissioner Penn also lost people from her district as well"

The petition cites the 15th and 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1964. It states, "The effect of this controversy invalidate the elective franchise; the privilege of certain qualified voters to cast their ballots for the candidates they may favor at future elections authorized by law and guaranteed ;by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and in the Voting Rights Act of 1964."

Baker claims that the new district lines displace minority voters into a district which is mostly white.