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Huntsville residents take redistricting concerns straight to the city

Some people are concerned new district lines might not fairly represent people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, as the main focus is reflecting the population shift and not the poverty concentrations.

Posted: Oct 25, 2021 10:23 PM
Updated: Oct 26, 2021 4:27 PM

Residents of Huntsville are taking their concerns about redistricting straight to the city.

This comes as the city only has six more weeks to finalize the new district lines that will be in place for the next 10 years.

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Some are concerned the new district lines might not fairly represent people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, as the main focus is reflecting the population shift and not the poverty concentrations.

That concern was discussed during the redistricting town hall Monday night.

"I really would like to see some input on economic as well to ensure that poverty levels aren't concentrated in certain areas," said Chris Horn, a resident of Huntsville.

Redistricting happens once every 10 years, and the new district lines could help level out poverty concentrations throughout Huntsville. Horn said making those shifts will affect people who have more challenges in their day-to-day lives and might need better access to public transportation or health care.

But to draw new districts, the city follows a set of guidelines, as council member Frances Akridge explained.

"The guidelines are very specific that it's about the number of people: One person, one vote," she said, adding socioeconomic considerations were not in the guidelines passed by the Council.

Another point of discussion was if the city would increase the number of districts to represent the growth of the city, which has grown rapidly since the last census in 2010. One resident asked if Huntsville would eventually fragment into multiple cities.

However, adding more districts is not in the plans.

"There is, to my knowledge, no firm plan to exchange or to increase the number of districts to 12 or any other number than the five that we have," said Trey Riley, the city attorney.

As the deadline for redistricting approaches, Akridge said the decision to make now is where to draw the lines for the five that already exist. A new draft of redistricting lines will be presented at the next town hall meeting on Nov. 9. The council will vote on the final district plans Dec. 16.

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