The Louisville Metro Council ad hoc committee on redistricting met Monday to discuss moving forward on drawing new borders for the 26 district seats.
From the beginning council leaders have vowed to protect incumbents, preserve minority representation and keeping neighborhoods united. But lawmakers disagreed on whether an independent demographer should be hired to redraw the maps or if city officials can handle the task after receiving proper software training.
Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, says the council will finish compiling the census data before the Dec. 31 deadline, but she was concerned if staffers can properly upload the numbers in order to redraw district lines.
“I’m just a little concerned that we’re proceeding probably without an independent demographer to guide us through this process. And it’s kind of like we’re relying on them maybe at the end and we may be back at square one. I don’t know if it’s unfounded or unjust or whatever,” she says
Population shifts that have occurred across the city show growth in east Louisville and an exodus from the city’s West End, particularly in historically black neighborhoods such as Hamilton’s district. There is concern that could diminish minority representation on the council.
During the committee meeting, Council President Jim King, D-10, said he favored the option of city officials entering the data as opposed to a independent group. When that position was hammered by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, King defended himself from criticism that the process is being hurried and the new lines wouldn’t be fairly drawn.
“I never said anything about it being a rushed thing and I never said anything about breaking the law,” says King. “All I’ve said is that I think that this is a numerical calculation. I have no problem with having an independent body validating it later.”
The council will hold another redistricting committee meeting seeking public input on July 1. The committee is still waiting for the final census figures.