New Lines

Redistricting Committee ready to set to work

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

The numbers from the Loudon County 2010 Census show that some areas have grown more than others. When the county tackles voter reapportionment, or "redistricting," three districts will need to be tweaked this time around, Russ Newman, county planning director, told the redistricting committee Thursday. The meeting was the first by the group, which is slated to meet over the coming Thursdays, July 21, 28 and Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. to complete the task at hand.

At the recommendation of Loudon County Mayor Estelle Herron, Newman was named chairman of the committee; Carolyn Harper, assessor's office, vice chair; and Susan Harrison, election commissioner, secretary.

The committee will be crunching numbers and tweaking lines in the coming months, as state law requires each 10 years. Newman said changes will be necessary to district lines for District 1, 4 and 7. The good news, he added, is that all those districts are contiguous, and the lines can be altered easily.

Newman said the ideal population for the district is determined by dividing the total county population by the total number of commissioners. The county population for 2010 is 48,556. The county has seven districts and 10 commissioners, with district 1,2 and 5 having two commissioners.
According to Newman, District 1 is 12.2 percent below what it should be and District 4 is 8 percent below. However, District 7, which is Tellico Village, is 35 percent over, Newman said.

Gray Hayes, a representative from CTAS (County Technical Assistance, Tennessee) said a plan for redistricting must be completed by the end of the year and submitted to the state. However, thanks to newly developed computer software, the task is far simpler today than it was the last time redistricting was necessary, he said.

"It's a lot simpler today than in 2000," Hayes said. "Many moons ago, we had paper maps, and we had to go out and  count houses. That's not what we see today. We've spent six or seven years making the right software to get the census right. You set up, turn the system on, zoom in, and all your census information is there in an overlay."

As district lines are moved virtually, the computers automatically recalculate the numbers in each block.

The Redistricting Committee is made up of Herron, Harrison, Harper, Ryan Janikula, assessor's office; Commissioners Brian Jenkins, David Meers, Austin Shaver, Earlena Maples, Bob Franke, Don Miller, Steve Harrelson, Sharon Yarbrough, Harold Duff and Roy Bledsoe.