Redistricting may not be over for Rutherford County as it was a major topic of discussion for the Health and Education Committee earlier this week.
“I promised the folks of La Vergne I wouldn’t let this conversation die,” Commissioner Rhonda Allen (Dist. 11) said.
The Rutherford County Commission revisited the issue of Road Board and School Board zones after outcries from La Vergne citizens who were unhappy that the city’s zones were split into three sections.
While the potential exists for La Vergne to be represented by three individuals on the School Board, many La Vergne residents expressed concern that their board members’ influence could be watered down.
The County Commission voted twice last year not to make changes to the zones under the new district map.
“I feel there needs to be a committee formed to look at this,” Allen said.
Some commissioners have repeatedly argued that respecting incumbency of County Commission districts was an important piece of criteria when redistricting took place, while less emphasis was placed on Road Board and School Board zones.
However, Health and Education Commission Chairman Jeff Jordan (Dist.13) rebutted that idea, contending the Redistricting Committee did not intend to throw those board members under the bus.
“I can honestly say there was no intent here to do anything that we shouldn’t have done,” he said. “It was not a difficult job to do the commissioners’ (redistricting map). It was time consuming, but not difficult.”
Jordan also pointed out the Redistricting Committee asked for input from Road Board and School Board members before the district map was sent to the full commission for approval.
“We begged for input from other people, and we didn’t get it until we were through with the process,” Jordan said, referring to members of the Road Board and School Board.
He added the County Commission tried to be fair to everyone.
“We could have gone ahead and she (Rhonda Allen) could have forgotten all about this, and we would have been through, but that was not our intent,” Jordan said. “We wanted to be fair to everyone and we were not fair to the Road (Board) and School Board members, not every one, but some of them, and that’s where we are now.”
Commissioner Will Jordan (Dist. 3) suggested incumbency should never have been a top priority because “our districts could have looked a whole lot neater if we had not dealt with incumbency.”
Jordan also said some Road Board and School Board members did not come out to meetings because they were under the impression incumbency was going to be protected.
There are two sides to the argument coming from La Vergne and not all residents want to give up three board members, he said.
Allen agreed, adding “I talked to a group that said, ‘You’ve got three out of four votes. Are you sure you want to go this route?’”
She also asked for support from the Health and Education Committee in leading the issue before the Steering Committee again next month.
Jordan offered to send a request to the Steering Committee for the matter to be placed on the Feb. 6 meeting agenda.