The Henry County Board currently is examining the configuration of the voting districts used to elect members to the board.
The primary purpose of reapportionment is to correct a population imbalance between districts that may have occurred due to population shifts since the last census.
No population shifts have occurred and the current map is balanced. However, at the April 2011 board meeting, the reapportionment committee submitted a new configuration for Henry County that would change the voting districts from the current three districts to two districts.
The reapportionment committee approved the two-district proposal by a 3 to 2 vote, three Republicans voting for the proposal and two Democrats voting against it.
When a member of the committee requested that hearings be scheduled in order for the public to have input into the new map, the Republican chairman of the committee refused to do so.
The two-district plan will be voted upon at the May 10 county board meeting. I am opposed to the new configuration. At the April county board meeting, I asked that the board be given more than one option for a reapportionment vote. I requested the current three-district map be one of those options.
I support retaining the three-district map for the following reasons:
• Keeping the current map avoids the expenses that will occur if the two-district map is adopted. (The county clerk has indicated that changing the current map will cost the taxpayers $9,500.)
• The current map is politically balanced between both parties and is competitively fair. (Over a number of election cycles, both parties have been able to obtain majorities under the current map.)
• Leaving the map as is will avoid voter confusion, and the current map provides fair representation for all areas in?Henry County. (The two-district map provides an advantage for the eastern part of the county at the expense of those living in the western part of the county.)
Although my request of allowing more than one option to be provided for the board members was denied, it was obvious through the discussion and the voting on the issue that the two-district plan does not have a majority support of the board members.
Board members who are concerned over the $9,500 expense of the change and the lack of balanced representation the new plan creates voted against the plan.
I am hopeful that opposition will cause the new plan to fail and common sense will prevail. Common sense dictates that the board should vote to retain the current map.
Tom Steele, Henry County?Board Member