Commission Could Reconsider Redistricting

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commissioners might take another try at approving a redistricting plan for the commission before Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin decides the court case over the new district boundaries.

ROLAND

Commissioner Terry Roland at a committee session Wednesday, May 2, will gauge support for a reintroduction of a plan that failed to get a nine-vote, two-thirds majority earlier this year.

The plan would change the commission from its current five-district, 13-member structure to a set of 13 single-member districts.

While the plan was under consideration earlier this year, Roland as well as fellow commissioners Mike Ritz and Walter Bailey filed suit in Chancery Court against the county in a dispute among commissioners in which no faction was able to get the nine votes necessary to pass any plan.

Ritz and Roland last week withdrew as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Goldin is due to get the final written responses by May 15 in the case. And he has advised attorneys that he is open to the commission trying one last time to resolve the political controversy before he moves to make a decision.

Ritz, in particular, has expressed concern that in making a ruling, Goldin could invalidate part of the county charter that requires a two-thirds majority because state law only requires a simple majority, or seven votes.

Other factions on the commission include commissioners who want the current multi-member districts to remain with some tweaks to their borders to account for shifts in population recorded in the 2010 U.S. Census. Still other commissioners favor a change to single-member districts but want eight of the 13 districts to have a majority black population.

The plan Roland intends to reintroduce would have a majority black population in seven of the 13 districts.

The full commission could vote on first reading on a redistricting ordinance at its Monday, May 7, meeting.