Little Citizen Participation in Redistricting Process

by Devin Katayama on August 22, 2011

Residents of some western Louisville districts have seen drafts of the Metro Council’s redistricting plans, but not all residents may see what their new districts will look like.

The Louisville Metro Council Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting met Monday to discuss progress on drafting new borders for the city’s 26 districts.

Earlier this month, the committee decided to begin showing drafts to the public. Last week the 5th and 12th districts held meetings and invited residents from neighboring districts to attend. But Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-12, was surprised when only 30 people showed up, he said. And only one person recommended a change to the draft.

“By in large people that come to the meetings are people that are engaged with the government and they’ve come to know their council person and, like them or not like them or whatever, they’ve come to know them and they know how to work with them,” said Blackwell.

The 26 districts are close to being redrawn, said Councilman Jim King, D-10. Except many districts haven’t had meetings for public comments, like the committee proposed happen. Districts one through six will be of most concern to the county attorney, said Blackwell. Those areas have the highest concentration of minorities and the most interaction with other districts.

Any redistricting must comply with the federal Voting Rights Act and must account for population and voting trends. This is difficult, said Blackwell, but the committee is close to having a final draft prepared.

“So far from an NAACP perspective we’re pleased with it. I think they’re making every concerted effort to redistrict fairly and according to federal law,” said Raoul Cunningham, with Louisville’s NAACP branch.

Cunningham has kept a close watch on the redistricting process and communicates regularly with Councilwoman Cheri Hamilton, D-5. He said someone from the NAACP double checks the work of council members to make sure the process is fair and accountable.

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