The Louisville Metro Council unanimously approved a final redistricting map in Thursday night’s full council meeting. The ordinance will now head to Mayor Greg Fischer for final approval.
Redistricting is required by state law every 10 years to see every district is fairly represented. This is the first time the merged Metro Government has undergone the process. The map includes new boundaries for all 26 council districts based on the 2010 Census. Council members at Thursday night’s meeting praised the bi-partisan support throughout the redistricting process.
“It could have gotten out of hand and you never let it do that,” said Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, addressing the redistricting committee.
For the past several months, Metro Council’s ad hoc committee on redistricting has met regularly to discuss changes to all districts. And despite some difficult decisions made by the redistricting committee, all 25 council members present at Thursday’s meeting were listed as a co-sponsor to the ordinance.
“When you look at what happened in Jefferson County with this redistricting I would encourage governments from all over the United States to pay attention to what happened here. There was no ranker. There was no partisan divide. There was no it’s all about me,” said Councilman Kevin Kramer, R-11.
The final ordinance was voted on by 25 council members. Councilman Tom Owen, D-8, had an excused absence. Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, said taxpayers should be pleased with how Metro Government treated redistricting from a financial standpoint.
“Not everybody is going to be happy, which I think we all recognize. Some things could have gone better. But I think for the most part the process did work out and I think it will probably serve us well when we do this again ten years from now,” Fleming said.
Census data shows populations moving eastward in the county. This stoked concerns throughout the redistricting process that minority representation on the council would drop as populations were diluted.
But despite waning populations in western districts, the new map includes six majority African American districts. The new boundaries comply with the Voting Rights Act, according to Gerald Hebert, a nationally renowned redistricting expert.
District 1 is among the majority African American districts, though its black population will drop under the new map from 71 to 58 percent. Several residents fought the change, but their efforts led to few results. Hebert previously told WFPL that having over 50 percent minority representation usually results in fair representation for that district.
Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham watched the redistricting process carefully and acknowledged his approval throughout the process. Earlier this week, he asked the committee to consider adding residents from District 3, which under the new map has a 61.4 percent African-American population, to District 6, which will have a 52.4 percent African-American population under the new map.
The redistricting committee made slight changes this week to certain districts per council members’ and residents’ requests. Both councilmen Rick Blackwell, D-12, and Fleming said the changes are slight.
The ordinance will now be sent to Fischer who has the option to sign, request changes or veto the ordinance. If Fischer does nothing, the ordinance will become effective by the next full council meeting.