Potential redistricting changes were the big discussion at Thursday nights county commission meeting as Mike Long and Darlene Atwood with the Johnson County Election Commission presented information from last years census. According to state law each voting district must have an equally represented population, and district boundaries must shift to accommodate population increases and decreases. Unfortunately, both the First District of Laurel Bloomery/Cold Springs and the Sixth of Shady Valley have lost significant numbers, which must be made up by taking in parts of an adjacent district. Since both already share a border this leaves the Fifth District of Doe Valley as one of the only viable options to make up the loss.
The major problem with taking in a portion of Doe Valley is that Iron Mountain stands as a natural boundary between it and Shady Valley. Concerns were raised about the distance that some of the affected residents would have to travel. However Long reassured the commission that if this plan was accepted notice would be mailed to anyone affected by the change and that early voting is only increasing in popularity. If the county does not do redistricting, the responsibility will fall on the state to make the changes, which would be done largely without regard to the actual geography of the area.
A redistricting committee made up of Long and Atwood, along with members of the county commission and community is handling the planning and is looking at all options. Complicating the issue is a stipulation which prevents changes in the commission districts from changing the school districts. Long encouraged each member of the commission to come by the election office to look at some of the maps for potential changes. Work will continue on finalizing a plan over the course of the next few weeks.
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