REDISTRICTING COMMITTEE MINUTES
17 August 2021
Committee member attendees: Commissioners – Erin Curry, Terry Harwell, David Wamble, Duane Jones, Rose Brown, Mike Cesarini, Gayle Jones, Business Owners: Tammy Pierchoski, and Willa Smith and Election Commission Administrator Zena Dickey Other Commissioners Joseph Sutton, Stoney Jackson, Tim Risner, Harold Brooks, Larry Worsham, Judy Pruett, Joyce Woodard, David Adams Election Commission Nikki Gibson Lawhorn, and County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS), Consultant Melisa Kelton.
Erin Curry called the meeting to order. Harold Brooks led the prayer and pledge.
First Agenda Item – Elect Officers
Erin moved that Duane Jones be elected for Chairman. Gayle Jones seconded. Terry Harwell moved all nominations cease. Motion and nomination approved. For Vice Chairman Gayle Jones moved that David Wamble be nominated, and Duane Jones seconded. Terry Harwell moved all nominations cease and David was elected by acclamation. Per Ms. Kelton the process also needs a secretary and Lois Aymett was also elected due to her other services to the county.
The meeting was then turned over to Ms. Melisa Kelton who stressed that CTAS was only providing guidelines and assistance where desired. She will be a member of the first group trained for redistricting assistance on August the 26th. For Giles County there appears to be only one district that doesn’t meet the guideline threshold. She proceeded to give an 8 slide presentation and stated with the election of officers already completed, she stressed the importance of having the election administrator involved. Further that all meetings should be public and the commission, the highway department and the school department should take an active part. She clarified the term “equal population standard” meaning each district has to be relatively equal with only a plus/minus variance of 5%, and the overall plan having a variance of plus/minus of 10%. Further that each district must be compact, continuous and not overlap; must consider minority rights; can’t exclude military or college students; and finally inmates not eligible for voting may be excluded.
She then showed a map describing census “blocks” with additional information, e.g. ethnic groups. The map, done in blocks, showed that generally only those on the outside edges rather than in the middle could be significantly affected since all must be contiguous. Once the plan, if approved by a resolution with a deadline of Jan 1st, will then go into effect after the August 2022 election. CTAS is currently scheduling additional training/support in September or October based on their August training date for themselves.
Terry Harwell asked do we have to have 7 districts and Melisa answered no, you can either increase or decrease. Gayle Jones asked does the public get a look before approved, and Melisa answered these are public meetings and the public can voice their opinions at those meetings. David Wamble asked where do we get the information for districts so we can get started, and Mike Cesarini asked about the website Melisa was using for her presentation. Melisa said she will send that information to the Chairman for him to distribute.
Melisa then showed individual Giles County Districts with both population over or under the ideal number of 4335, and the computed variance. Only one district, that being District 2, did not meet the approved variance (plus/minus 5%). Other districts variance (either over or under): District 1 – 1.6% variance; District 2 – 5.2% variance; District 3 – 2.4% variance; District 4 – 3.1% variance; District 5 – 4.3% variance; District 6 – 4.6% variance; District 7 – 2.8% variance. David Wamble then said we could do nothing and be OK, but the recommendation was to look at District 2 for possible moving those populations over the ideal number into that district. David Adams noted that if some people are moved from their current voting precinct the real possibility is they will stop voting.
Mike Cesarini recommended that the county choose the dates now for CTAS to return given her timeslots are filling up fast. The date, time and place was set for 9:00 a.m., 14 September (a Tuesday) at the annex. Mike suggested considering using the EMS building since the media in the annex is limited, i.e. small projection screen, limited viewing.. Some discussion followed on the advantages/disadvantages of using another location, and Duane said he would check it out, but for the time being the location is the annex.
Melisa promised to come back with two larger maps so it would be easier to work with moving between various districts to determine the best effect. Judy Pruett asked when would there be a discussion on reducing the number of Commissioners and districts which resulted in a flurry of various opinions with the Legislative Committee being mentioned as the proper committee to consider that question.
David Wamble motioned for adjournment, with Erin Curry seconded. Motion approved.