Voters voice concerns over redistricting

Published 10:40 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

Concerned constituents gathered Friday evening to voice their opinions on the redrawing of congressional district lines to state Sen. Bryan Taylor, Rep. Alan Boothe and Sen. Jimmy Holley.

“I thought this was a good showing tonight,” Taylor said. “We had people from across the district, from the northern end to the southern end of the congressional district, and we heard different concerns.”

From citizens stating their desire to have their district be left alone to citizens expressing concerns over financial issues regarding redistricting, Taylor, Holley and Boothe heard it all.

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“We heard concerns in Montgomery about being split up and we heard concerns in Pike County from people who were afraid of being split up,” Taylor said. “They just wanted to make sure that they continued to be represented by one congressman or congresswoman, one senator and one Legislature.”

“Please leave our district alone” was the chief concern of a few individuals present at the hearing.

“I would think that we’re generally comfortable with a surrounding we’ve grown accustomed to,” Holley said. “When a district grows in population and another district loses population, and others grow slightly and others grow tremendously, we’ve got to adjust the boundary lines.”

During the hearing, it was pointed out that the most profound changes would be noticed in Districts 6 and 7, not the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Pike County.

“The seventh district has an under-population inside of it and District 6s has an over-population,” Holley said. “In the 2nd District, there is an under-population, which means it will have to grow somewhere in the neighborhood of around 8,000 people.”

Holley said the concept is best understood if you imagine holding a balloon in your hand and punch one side, then there will be an equal, opposite, reaction on the other side.

“Every time you make a shift, it affects the boundary line this way or that way,” Holley said.

The 7th District is composed of the following counties: Sumter, Greene, Choctaw, Marengo, Wilcox, Dallas, Perry, Hale, Pickens, and parts of Tuscaloosa, Clarke and Jefferson. It will gain approximately 79,467 people.

The 6th District, which is composed of Bibb, Chilton, Shelby, St. Clair counties and parts of Jefferson and Coosa counties, will lose approximately 71,663 people.

The other five districts in the state of Alabama can expect the following gains and losses of people, which affect the way in which congressional district lines will be drawn: District 1 will lose approximately 5,022 people; District 2 will gain 8,942 people; District 3 will gain 1,521 people; District 4 will gain 22,657 people; and District 5 will lose 35,905 people.

Finalizing how the lines were not the topic of Friday’s hearing, mainly because the decision has yet to be made.

“Our purpose wasn’t to come down here tonight and commit to anybody about how the lines will be drawn, but we take this input and go back up to Montgomery and share it with the committee who will present the plan,” Taylor said. “Then, we’ll have more hearings after the lines are drawn up to give people the chance to comment again.”