REDISTRICTING COMMITTEE MINUTES for 14 September 2021 – Approved September 29, 2021
Committee member attendees: Commissioners – Duane Jones Chairman, Erin Curry, Terry Harwell, David Wamble, Rose Brown, Mike Cesarini, Gayle Jones, Other Committee Members: Business Owners: Tammy Pierchoski, and Willa Smith and Election Commission Administrator Zena Dickey, Other: County Executive Melissa Greene Other Commissioners Joseph Sutton, Stoney Jackson, Bill Cary, Harold Brooks, Larry Worsham, Judy Pruett, Joyce Woodard, David Adams, Tommy Pollard, and Roger Reedy Other: Election Commission Nikki Gibson Lawhorn, and County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS), Consultants Melisa Kelton. and Robin Roberts
Chairman Duane Jones called the meeting to order. Tommy Pollard led the prayer and pledge. A motion by Terry Harwell and seconded by Erin Curry to approve the minutes of 17 August 2021 was approved.
First Agenda Item – Number of Districts/Commissioners in Each District: Duane stated that now is the time to consider any changes, if required or desired, to the current representation and configuration of the districts. Mike Cesarini moved, and David Wamble seconded a motion to present to the full commission as a recommendation that each district have two commissioners each. Mike said this would save the county money, could reduce meetings to one work session and one full commission meeting which would help in interesting potential candidates for office (last time had one district that had no candidate and elected from the write- in candidate,) and with a smaller group of commissioners potentially be more manageable and cohesive. Counter to this thinking was made by several commissioners: Gayle Jones – smaller groups may be easier to control; elected not to do the easy but to represent. Joyce Woodard – would place more burden on county executive to break ties since number of commissioners would be even. David Adams – agreed with Gayle, some of his constituents have asked to add one for more than three per district. Stoney Jackson – election often a popular vote with little regard to knowledge of the county processes. Bill Cary – If can influence one, can influence many. Sees more positive effects with 14. Mike Cesarini – In response to Gayle’s remarks, we now have committees of seven who decide now; he suggested quality over quantity. Duane Jones – The committees just provide guidance to the full commission. He sees the Commissioners as a diverse group, who do come together well in full legislative meeting. David Adams – re the number of people running for office, he has had 5 to 6 running generally. It would be hard for 2 to cover their own district. Gayle Jones – goal is not harmony – goal is representation. Stoney Jackson – I have been here the longest and there has always been about 3 – 5 candidates in my district. Bill Cary – In referencing state representation and the guidelines for redistricting, said the state sees fit to have one representative for many people (within a district) and in the guidelines there is a restricting formula as well. Judy Pruett – what do other counties do. In response the CTAS consultant Robin Roberts gave the following information: Few counties have more than 21, with the average being 17. Before laws placed the number of commissioners allowed to a range of 9 -25, the commissioners had as many as 38 – 50. Current examples: Hamilton County (Chattanooga) has 9 and Shelby County (Memphis) has 13. He mentioned that several counties are looking at reducing size of commissions and as an alternative some counties are looking at increasing the number of districts especially in smaller communities. He mentioned that Lincoln has 2 or 3 districts where nobody decided to run. Also, he mentioned that commissioners now have required training and deal with more complicated issues, e.g., did have 34 accounting standards and now have approximately 90. So takes more effort and time. In his experience smaller did make the meeting more dynamic. Gayle Jones mentioned she had been doing the training and felt some were good, but some were not sufficiently relevant, e.g., body language and suggested CTAS do better or repeat the better ones. Melisa Kelton thanked Gayle for her input. Roger Reedy – now is the time for making a transition, and not to let negative impact weigh more heavily; not to let ones in now stopping the commissioners from making the best decision – to look at what’s best for the county. Duane called for a vote on the motion of recommending to the full commission that number of commissioners be reduced from 3 to 2 per district. Tammy Pierchoski asked if that meant take off the table adding any districts and answer was the motion was for existing district. The motion was approved 8 -2 with Duane and Gayle voting no. A motion was then made by David Wamble and seconded by Erin Curry to leave number of districts as they currently exist (seven) and forward recommendation to the full commission.. Motion approved.
2nd Agenda Item – Redistricting – Melisa Kelton then used the CTAS software and screen presentation to show current 2020 Census data which included each Giles district as well as population. In reviewing the “equal population guideline” for each district, only one, district 2, needed to be redistricted to meet the guideline. Several suggestions were made and were constructed around being contiguous to district 2. The final decision was to move 36 people from district 7 to district 2, with that movement coming from the general location of memory garden. This would reduce district 7 to 4179 from 4215 and would place district 2 within the guidelines and did not affect district 7 in meeting the guidelines. A motion by Erin Curry and seconded by Gayle Jones to accept the proposal to move that section of 36 people from District 7 to District 2 was approved with the recommendation the proposal be provided to the full commission. Motion approved. Mention of the completion deadline of 1 January 2022 was made in comparing to upcoming full commission meetings. Also, that the 36 people impacted by this decision would receive new registration cards.
With no other business, Terry Harwell moved for adjournment; Erin Curry seconded, and motion was approved.
Secretary Lois Aymett