Despite outcries from citizens of La Vergne, members of the Rutherford County Redistricting Committee decided not to make changes to Road and School Board zones.
Several board members attended the Wednesday meeting to voice their concerns over the alternative map proposed by Commissioner Robert Stevens (Dist. 12). Election Administrator Nicole Lester presented potential issues with the scenario including alteration of term limits if certain zones change and the possibility of incumbents having to run for re-election against each other.
Road Board Chairman Randal Jones asked the committee to reject the proposed map saying, “The Road Board and School Board should have had a member on this committee."
"As far as my district, people are upset and they don’t understand why you have to have incumbents against each other when the County Commission did not get the same treatment that we did,” Jones said.
Jones was not the only board member unhappy with the scenario presented. All six Road and School Board members in attendance recommended voting down the proposed map.
“There are some very important issues of maintaining incumbency and the value that brings to the efficiency of government,” said Aaron Holladay, a member of the School Board.
The Redistricting Committee reconvened after the County Commission voted last month to look at alternative scenarios for the new zones. The decision came after several commissioners and La Vergne citizens expressed concern over future representation on both boards with current zones after redistricting took place.
Redistricting is required by federal and state law every 10 years after the U.S. Census is taken to ensure equal representation at all levels of government.
Commissioner Rhonda Allen (Dist. 11) addressed the difficulty in trying to follow the law while pleasing incumbents and citizens.
“For me personally, I would have been fine if we never chose to respect incumbency. It feels like we are in a position where we are having to choose between respecting incumbents or respecting the people they serve,” Allen said.
Commissioner Jeff Jordan (Dist. 13) argued the Redistricting Committee may have moved too fast and did not fully study the proposed zones.
“Where we made our mistake is that we didn’t put it back up on the board for considerable discussion,” Jordan said.
Lester reminded the committee that the zones can be changed earlier than 10 years.
“The County Commission has the authority to examine the Road and School Board zones at any time,” Lester said.
Commissioner Doug Shafer (Dist. 1) recommended another committee be formed soon after Jan. 1 with citizen involvement to analyze other possible scenarios.
Commissioner Tiffany Phillips (Dist. 8) echoed Shafer’s suggestion and offered a solution to some of the problems when trying to adjust zones.
“One possible solution that they could look at is coming up with a map and making it effective after everyone has the opportunity to go through an election cycle and then it would become effective after the fact," Phillips said.
La Vergne City Mayor Senna Mosley thanked the committee for evaluating alternatives to current zones under the new commission districts set to take affect Jan.1. She also asked the issue remain lively in the coming months.
Several commissioners agreed the issue should continue to be evaluated, but the purpose of the meeting was to decide on a scenario for recommendation or make no change to the current plan by the regularly scheduled December County Commission meeting.
The committee voted unanimously to make no change.
Jordan concluded the discussion with a joke reflecting the exhausting nature of redistricting.
“The last time this was done, I believe it was done entirely by the Election Commission, and I recommend that y'all do it the next time,” Jordan said.