Six regional meetings are being scheduled to reflect the committee’s confidence in the map released at the final committee meeting on Monday. The county attorney said the drafts are compliant under the Voting Rights Act, but Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, said the draft called 10-B is still changing.
“It is reasonable to assume that after the collective comments from the public we will have at least a 10-C, so people should not take this, put it on the wall and throw darts at it because it’s not done for sure,” said Downard.
Council President Jim King, D-10, joked that the committee didn’t want to draw more than 10 versions of the map, so it began with the supplemental letters (i.e. 10-A). The earlier version, 10-A, was called compliant under the Voting Rights Act by Gerald Hebert–an expert on redistricting who was hired by the county attorney.
What Hebert also found was that the proposed district maps actually add a new black-majority district–District 6.
“Under the proposed plan, which was 10-A, all six districts (1-6) have majority African-American populations,” said Eric Graninger, an assistant Jefferson County attorney.
The proposed District 6 reflects its voting trend, which shows over 80 percent of the population voted for President Barack Obama. Now council members will be taking proposed maps public over the next few weeks in six regional meetings, said Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-12.
Residents still should not be quick to assume these maps are final, said Downard.
An ordinance can be filed as soon as Oct. 13 after seeking public comment, said Blackwell. The council can then take a vote on the final map two weeks later on Oct.27. The committee is not only waiting for public comments, but it also waits to confirm its data and numbers through the Legislative Research Commission, which was expected to deliver them on Sept. 15. Now the committee isn’t sure when they’ll be delivered, said Blackwell. But the numbers shouldn’t affect the maps too much and Downard said any redrawing at that point should be “an easy fix.”
The timing couldn’t have worked out better for appointing a District 1 representative before a final Metro Council vote, said King. Officials previously told WFPL that the committee was waiting for former Councilwoman Judy Green’s trial to be finished. With the trial behind the committee has picked up where it left off.
Metro Government legally has until the end of the year to redraw any district maps.