REDISTRICTING COMMITTEE MINUTES – 29 September 2021 (unapproved)
Committee member attendees: Commissioners – Duane Jones Chairman, Erin Curry, Terry Harwell, David Wamble, Rose Brown, Mike Cesarini, Gayle Jones, Other Committee Members: Business Owners: Willa Smith (Tammy Pierchoski -absent) Election Commission Administrator Zena Dickey, Other: County Executive Melissa Greene Other Commissioners David Adams, Stoney Jackson, Tommy Pollard, Judy Pruett, Roger Reedy, Joyce Woodard and Larry Worsham Other: County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS), Consultants Melisa Kelton. and Gabrielle McCollum Public: Bill Young, Barbara Harmon, Pulaski Citizen
Chairman Duane Jones called the meeting to order. Tommy Pollard led the prayer and pledge. A motion by Rose Brown and seconded by David Wamble to approve the minutes of 14 September 2021 was approved.
First Agenda Item – Redistricting – Gayle Jones asked if the problem with the previously approved redistricting plan could be addressed. Zena Dickey stated that the plan would have required those people in that redistricting section to vote in two different precincts – one being city and the other being county and would require the county to buy another voting machine for the small number of people being changed through this plan. Melisa Kelton also stated that would allow their votes to be more easily known which would also be unacceptable. Chairman Duane Jones said we want to do this right, and we have the time to do that. Stoney Jackson questioned this rationale, stating Minor Hill has had a similar situation and it works. David Wamble motioned that the committee rescind the previous plan and start over. Erin Curry seconded and the motion was approved.
The discussion centered around District 2 which is currently under the ideal population count as prescribed in guidelines by the TN Comptroller, and District 5 the second largest population in the county, with a growing population according to the 2020 census, and which lies adjacent to District 2. Another District was studied but found to not be adjacent to District 2. The potential change, affecting 62 people (noted by Melissa Greene- this is total population, not necessarily voters in considering precinct movements) would be on Morrow Road and Malone. Tommy Pollard questioned why 62, since only need 10 to make District 2, as a minimum, meet the ideal requirement. Duane mentioned District 2 would still be the lowest in population and that there should be a balance between all the districts. Stoney mentioned that his experience has been that people do not want to move their polling places. Melisa Kelton suggested a minor change which would place the district closer to the road (no people involved.) Motion by Terry Harwell as presented by Melisa Kelton with David Wamble seconding was approved. (Presentation showed District 5 movement to District 2, on Morrow Road and Malone). Melisa Kelton promised new maps which she will receive tomorrow and will then email to the Committee.
Other Business – David Wamble asked for an open discussion on reducing number of commissioners from 21 to 14. Some reasons for not doing so raised by several commissioners, i.e., smaller number may be more easily influenced by others, constituents have noted they wanted it left the same, get more diverse input, wouldn’t save money because smaller number would have to do more work and would ask for more money. Judy Pruett of District 7 said her experience with constituents was different in that there is a significant imbalance in numbers of commissioners in more rural parts compared to those in a city or town. David Wamble then asked Melissa Greene for her thoughts on this possibility. She said she can see both sides, i.e., with 14 you could set the dates having both a work session and a full session which would help more people decide to run since they could be somewhat adaptable to scheduled meetings (meetings now are at the call of the committee chair), possibly even meet at lunch. All would require a change to the County’s Rules of Order. Might get newer, younger candidates. However, with 21 (currently) people tend to vote for incumbents but of the 3 per districts, often one of those is replaced which also gives newer candidates a chance. Roger Reedy discussed doing work sessions now rather than as is currently done. Regarding work sessions, Gayle Jones mentioned that often some new information is provided, and you may need more time to verify that information rather than someone saying something that needs more information and then having to vote at that time on what may or may not be complete. David Adams mentioned that all were surveyed before becoming a commissioner and asked if your job would interfere and no one said it would. Mike Cesarini said he had originally brought it up because in one district no one ran, and a write-in candidate was elected. With this being an off-year election (no presidential) recruitment of candidates or anyone willing to serve may be a problem. Erin Curry mentioned her experience with Leadership Giles which exposed her to both local and state government and what that entailed. She stated that helped her make the decision to run.
Duane Jones moved that the meeting be adjourned, with Rose Brown seconding. Motion approved.
Secretary Lois Aymett