Auburn Council Calls for Special Meeting for Redistricting

0
288

BY HANNAH LESTER
HLESTER@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

The Auburn City Council voted to once again postpone the vote on redistricting Tuesday night and called for a special meeting on Jan. 25 to further discuss the topic.

The plan was originally proposed in December with a map based on state guidelines and created by city staff.

Members of the local NAACP branch, #5038, attended the meeting in December with a new plan however — a map that would include a second minority-majority district.

The city of Auburn has one minority-majority district and that is what the city’s plan proposed as well for this redistricting process.

Redistricting is the process of redrawing lines to reflect the city’s growing and changing population. For more on this process, click here: www.opelikaobserver.com/auburn-purchases-equipment-for-dinius-park-postpones-redistricting/.

After two separate meetings where the branch urged the council to postpone the vote, the council obliged on Dec. 21 and took extra time to review information. They then postponed again on Jan. 4 after City Manager Megan Crouch said that the city had not finished reviewing the information from the NAACP.

Ward 1 Council Member Connie Fitch-Taylor also held a Ward 1 meeting Monday night in conjunction with the NAACP to discuss the redistricting process.

Multiple citizens and NAACP members have spoken at city council meetings since December.

A public hearing was still held Tuesday night and multiple citizens, NAACP members and hired cartographer Tabitha Isner spoke on behalf of Branch #5038.

Additionally, City Attorney Rick Davidson spoke to council members, along with Dorman Walker who assisted the city with the redistricting process. Finally, M.V. Hood III, professor of political science and director of survey research center at the University of Georgia, was asked to provide feedback based on the data for the city.

Hood shared with the council that based upon numbers and data, there is no evidence of vote dilution in the city of Auburn.

When redistricting is challenged in court, a process the NAACP has threatened against the city of Auburn, the Gingles test is used to determine if a city has created a map with problems.

And Hood said that based upon the data he analyzed, the NAACP map does not meet the criteria for the city.

A following discussion ensued during the public hearing for the ordinance. The community asked that the council to work with the NAACP and create a new map and include the community in the process.

“The minorities [would] have the opportunity, not even the guarantee, but the opportunity to have one more person of their community’s choosing on this city council,” Isner said. “That’s all we’re asking for is a second district in which there is the possibility that a minority could be elected. It will be a diverse, really cool, interesting district.

“And I have no idea who will win but it might be a minority and at least the minority population would have significant influence over whoever represents them in that district. So that’s what we’re asking for. We’re asking not to go to court, we’re asking for you to make a choice because it’s an option. A legal option in front of you, that you can consider.”

The council will resume the discussion on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

OTHER BUSINESS:

– The council voted to approve the city manager to purchase 1,039 stream mitigation credits from Broadview Mitigation Bank for just under $104,000 for the Webster Road Connector Project.

– The council approved the Phase 1 project for a Public Safety Training Facility from D&J Enterprises, Inc. for over $499,000.

– The council approved a change to development agreement for the Donahue Ridge Phase 8 project. The council changed the legal name of EFACO III, Inc. to EFACO III, LLC.

– The council approved a contract with First Team Construction, Co., Inc., for over $7.9 million for the Auburn Soccer Complex Project.

– The council voted to approve the city manager to purchase 0.38 wetland mitigation credits from McLemore Mitigation Bank for just under $16,000 for the Webster Road Connector Project.

– The council approved the purchase of a Rubrik R6410se Brick appliance for just under $251,000.

– The council approved relocation fees of $148,000 to the Alabama Baptism State Board of Missions after its relocation during the Wright Street Parking Deck construction.

– The council annexed 10.51 acres of property on the east side of Lee Road 958 from J. Torbit and Nancy T. Henry.

– The council annexed 48.5 acres of property on the north side of Society Hill Road from Black Rice on behalf of McWhorter Properties — Society Hill Estate, LLC.

– The council approved a vacation of property at 114 East Veterans Boulevard for N.P. Alabama Investments, LLC.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here