Rural southwest Alabama victim to partisan politics

Published 10:34am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Republican Supermajority redistricting plan to redraw state senate districts will fragment SD 22 to the detriment of rural southwest Alabama.   The plan, sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial (R – Lineville), will divide communities of interest and drastically diminish our voice and influence in Montgomery.  It is partisan politics at its worst.  For these reasons and many others, I am adamantly opposed to the political plan.

By law, the legislature is required to redraw district lines following each federal census to compensate for population shifts that occurred since the previous census.  The 2010 census reflects very little change in population within Senate District 22 (SD 22). In fact, SD 22 is within a deviation of 1%, which is the standard the joint reapportionment committee has chosen to follow.

For over a year, I have worked countless hours in an attempt to prevent the lines of SD 22 from being drawn in such a way that would reduce the influence of rural southwest Alabama to remain represented in the legislature.  Due to partisan politics, my suggestions and ideas to the Supermajority have fallen on deaf ears.

Based on population shifts, SD 22 required very few changes to be made to its boundaries to meet the desired population of people.

However, the Dial Plan divides Clarke County into three separate senate districts and shifts a majority of the county out of SD 22.  The plan shifts the majority of Clarke County into SD 23, represented by Senator Hank Sanders (D-Selma), and a northern section of the county would be shifted into SD 24, represented by Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro).  Furthermore, the Dial Plan divides Washington County into two Senate districts with SD 23 expanding into Washington County for the first time, while the majority of Choctaw County would be shifted from SD 22 to SD 24.

The Supermajority’s plan and underlying purpose presents the risk that many of the counties within the eight county district could be represented by two and in some counties three Senators that could each reside in excess of 75 miles away.  Their intent would cause those of us living in rural southwest Alabama to be represented by a Senator who does not visit the schools that our children attend, and who doesn’t travel the roads that many of our school busses struggle to cross in taking our children to those same schools.

An additional interesting aspect of the proposal for SD 22 is the distance within its own boundaries.  While SD 22 is currently the largest senate district in size, the Supermajority’s proposal will expand the already sprawling district stretching it in excess of 300 miles from its most northwestern point in Butler, Choctaw County, Alabama to a point in Baldwin County only separated from West Pensacola by water.  It goes without saying the conflicts that its senator will be faced with in the attempt to represent Red Creek in Washington County, Alabama, while at the same time being expected to represent Baldwin County’s waterfront.

– Senator Marc Keahey

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