Franklin City Council adopts redistricting plan
Published 11:59 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011
FRANKLIN—The Franklin City Council on Monday voted 4-2 to adopt a new redistricting plan, after splitting on a vote to defer the decision.
Councilmen Greg McLemore and Don Blythe dissented while Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson was absent. Councilwoman Mary Hilliard, Councilmen Benny Burgess and Barry Cheatham, and Mayor Jim Councill voted in favor.
The new plan contains three majority-black districts. They are wards 3, 4 and 5.
The option also falls in line with House and Senate lines approved by Virginia’s General Assembly, minimizing split precincts.
McLemore made a motion before the final redistricting vote to hold off on making a decision until Johnson could return and until the council could again study the proposals.
The vote was split and ultimately failed with Cheatham, McLemore and Blythe voting in favor of tabling the discussion and Burgess, Hilliard and Councill voting to deny the motion on fears that deferring the decision would force Voter Registrar Jennifer Maynard to send out two separate voter cards to affected citizens — one for the new House and Senate districts and one for the newly redrawn ward lines within the city — which would cause confusion and cost the city extra money in postage.
“I think we should stay on schedule,” Hilliard said.
The majority of the discussion Monday night revolved around two options — the one developed by city staff and ultimately chosen by council and one developed by citizen Dr. Linwood Johnson.
Cheatham preferred the option developed by staff because Johnson’s option created too many “juts, or fingers,” he said.
“I think it causes confusion,” Cheatham said.
An example of the differences is Railroad Avenue, which is part of Ward 3 in the plan developed by staff but is part of Ward 4 in Johnson’s proposal.
“I’m leaning toward (Johnson’s plan) because it’s the only one that included citizen input,” McLemore said.
City Attorney Taylor Williams will send the preferred option to the Department of Justice for pre-clearance. The council instructed him unanimously to also send Johnson’s option and other options.