published Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Nashville: Two legislators support consolidation of black voters

NASHVILLE — Chattanooga’s two state House Democrats — Reps. Tommie Brown and JoAnne Favors — agree that a Republican redistricting plan which merges much of the black lawmakers’ legislative districts is the best thing for black voters.

The plan to redraw the 99 House districts is scheduled for a House vote today.

Brown said earlier this week that in a meeting over the weekend voters in the 28th Legislative District told her “they believe, as drawn now, it is in the best interests ... that we have as strong as possible voting African-Americans.”

As as result, they felt that folding black precincts in Favors’ 29th District into Brown’s 29th district “was in our best interests because if you weaken that percentage then we stand to lose some votes.”

House figures show that in the new district, adult black residents of voting age will account for 60.84 percent.

Favors said “that’s what I’ve been saying the whole time. ... We’ve never had two African-American districts so we don’t have the numbers justifying two majority African-American districts.

“So I’m happy to see a much strengthened African-American district that will provide younger candidates the opportunity to be successful,” said Favors, who is strongly considering running herself.

Brown’s 28th District is a black-majority district and thus, under the federal Voting Rights Act, has special protections to ensure a majority of black voters continues if possible.

Blacks residents account for about a third of Favors’ current district. They are a little over 50 percent in Brown’s 28th District.

Under other parts of the plan, the county is losing half a district because growth in other parts of the state has exceeded local growth. Instead of five and a half districts, the county will now have five districts. Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring, represents the half district. That is being redistributed among the remaining Republicans.

Favors’ 29th District also becomes a Republican-leaning district that covers parts of Ooltewah and the Highway 58 area.

Lawmakers are required to redraw state House, state Senate and congressional districts once every ten years in accordance with latest U.S. Census data.

Read more in tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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