By Randy Bell
Local NAACP leaders say they’re still studying the two latest plans for redistricting Clinton but believe the ward map they submitted remains the best choice. And they’ll “probably be challenging” any attempt to adopt a different map, according to NAACP board member Monica McInnis.
“From what I’ve seen so far, the [NAACP] community map still looks better” [than the other redistricting options], McInnis said following a Board of Aldermen work session on November 6.
The Board voted 4-3 September 19 to approve the NAACP proposal, known as Plan 7, but Mayor Phil Fisher vetoed the action, saying too many subdivisions would be split by ward lines. No attempt was made to override his veto. Since then, Fisher and a couple of the aldermen have developed two new ward maps, which the Board spent twenty minutes discussing at the work session.
The mayor says another vote on redistricting is planned December 5.
“The Board has certainly had enough maps to look at, and, if they vote for one that gets challenged, then that’s the way it is,” said Fisher.
Ward 6 Alderman James Lott says the vetoed plan is still his favorite ward map, because he believes it best reflects Clinton’s population by increasing minority voting strength, “but I do have other maps that I like.” Lott, the only African American on the Board, agrees with some of the other members that one of the new maps, Plan 9, addresses the major redistricting concerns that’ve been raised.
“For me, that’s most important, us being able to come together collectively and erase most of the issues we have,” said Lott.
Ward 5 Alderwoman Beverly Oliver is pleased that Plan 9 allows her to keep the Bruenburg neighborhood in her ward.
“Right now, I’m leaning more toward [Plan] 9,” she said following the work session. Oliver had indicated previously that she’s developed relationships with the constituents in that neighborhood and doesn’t want to lose them in the redistricting shuffle.
Fisher insists that the debate over the various ward maps has been politically motivated.
“That’s all this was about, is getting [Oliver] re-elected,” claims Fisher.
The Board originally had considered six redistricting plans, with only one of them getting votes at the September 19 meeting. Three of the Board members voted for Plan 3, while the other four were in favor of the NAACP alternative, Plan 7.
Following Fisher’s veto, Plans 8 and 9 were developed.