published Friday, December 30th, 2011

Chattanooga's racially charged redistricting debate

It is hard to think of a time when redistricting -- the redrawing of political lines after the census every 10 years -- is not contentious. Under even the best of circumstances, when everyone is trying to be fair, there is still something naturally unsettling about deciding which people will be in which district of a particular city or state.

So perhaps not surprisingly, the recent debate over redistricting in Chattanooga was contentious as well.

But it was also disheartening. It got caught up -- as redistricting plans so often do -- in arguments about whether particular districts would have "enough" or "not enough" members of certain races.

Some critics of the city's redistricting plan suggested that it would not guarantee the election of what they consider to be enough members of racial minorities on the City Council in coming years.

What we didn't hear very much about was the idea of Chattanoogans simply being able to vote for their City Council members as they see fit to promote the best interests of the entire city.

We all should want to have the best elected officials we can find -- without regard to race. But that principle seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

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You seem to be confused, it's not about the race of the person elected. Redistricting is about the people that constitute the district, and representing them. The race of the person elected is incidental, the real issue is serving a constituent base. Much like how we have states and the US Senate.

If you're worried about the person being elected, suggest they add a write-in section on the ballot. I honestly don't know if they do or don't, but if they don't, that would be the change which provides what you claim to want.

Within reason though, because I'm sure there's other restrictions to somebody serving, such as residence and age.

Or if that's not adequate, suggest that Chattanooga adopt some form of proportional representation, or even petition-based. If a person gets X-thousand voters to support them, then they would be on the Council.

December 30, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
FreedomJournal said...

The following is an excerpt taken from a Censored and Banned Doctoral Dissertation entitled “The Black Conspiracy: The Rise and Fall of a Commission Form of Government.” A note on a historical precedent in re-districting in Chattanooga.

CHAPTER FIVE

BLACK LEADERSHIP AND REDISTRICTING OF THE 29th DISTRICT

An important example that depicts the lack of concern for the interests of the Black community by Black officials is the redistricting plan for the 29th legislative district. Redistricting plans in the Tennessee State Legislature in 1980 drastically changed the precinct make up of the 29th legislative District in Chattanooga. With only one Black state representative from Chattanooga, the restructuring of the 29th district presently insures only one representative from the Black community.

The evidence suggests that the plan to dilute the Black vote in the 29th district was known to the Black leadership structure well before it was introduced and passed in the General Assembly. From my observation as an employee of city government (the office of the commissioner of Health and Education), I gained firsthand knowledge of the proposed plan from my employers. I would argue that John Franklin (Commissioner of Health and Education) and specifically Clarence Robinson (state representative 28th district) did not challenge the redistricting plan they evidently found it more politically rewarding to support an obvious dilution of the Black vote. From my investigation, no one in the Black leadership structure chose to challenge the redistricting plan. In fact, the average citizen did not know that the redistricting plan had been imposed. As a resident of the 29th district, I drafted a letter to Mr. Laughlin McDonald, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Atlanta, Georgia. (1)

The American Civil Liberties Union responded to the correspondence August 5, 1982. The response consisted of a cover letter by Laughlin McDonald (2) and a memorandum prepared by Neil Bradley. (3) Mr. Bradley's memo clearly assumes that the present information is not sufficient to contest the case.

Peace, Carl A. Patton

December 30, 2011 at 7:10 p.m.
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