Chattanooga's racially charged redistricting debate

Chattanooga's racially charged redistricting debate

December 30th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

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.