By Brandon Moseley

The Alabama Legislative Committee on Reapportionment approved plans to redistrict both the Alabama House of Representatives, the State Senate, and the state board of education.

But not everyone is happy about it.

State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) said of the state board of education plan, “I got folks in my district who do not like us being split up like this.” with three school board members representing parts of Jefferson County.

Smitherman voiced similar concerns about the Senate redistricting plan.

“There is no reason on green earth why Jefferson County is being divided among seven senate districts,” Smitherman said. “The only reason to go outside of the county is to create a majority-minority county and then you go outside the county. All three minority districts are inside the county."

State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), who is also the Alabama Democratic Party Chairman, voiced similar concerns about keeping counties whole.

“Of the three State Senators who represent Tuscaloosa, only one lives in Tuscaloosa County,” England said. “It is possible to draw a Senate district for Tuscaloosa without dividing it three ways.”

England claimed that the plan hurts the minority (Black) community.

“Pack them into the district to make sure that their influence does not extend outside to a district that is traditionally White or majority,” England said.

The Legislative Committee on Reapportionment is chaired by State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) and State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile).

State Rep. Sam Jones (D-Mobile) asked, “How did we get a Senator from Baldwin in Mobile and a Senator from Mobile in Baldwin?”

McClendon responded, “The answer is pretty simple. We had to sit down with each of the incumbents and resolve their issues.”

Currently, the Alabama Senate is divided 27 to 8 between Republicans and Democrats. All eight Democratic districts are majority-minority districts.

The 10-member Alabama House of Representatives is presently divided between 78 majority White districts, which are currently all represented by Republicans, and 28 majority-minority districts, which were all won by Democrats in 2018. That changes some in the new House redistricting plan.

“We are creating a new majority-minority district in Montgomery,” Pringle announced. “Additionally, Anthony Daniels’ (D-Huntsville) district is 48% Black which he said he is good with.

“We are doing everything possible to make sure that we do not have regression."

Smitherman requested that racial polarization studies be done for all of the State Senate districts, “If we don’t have it, spend the money.”

House District 74 is presently represented by Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery). 1819 News spoke with Meadows, who said she was angry about the decision to redraw her district. She said that she expressed her views to the committee, but they ignored them.

Meadows said that only two of the 10 current voting precincts remained in the redrawn Congressional District 74.

“They could have easily fixed with Reed Ingram’s district (R-Montgomery)," said Meadows. "He had a surplus of voters.

“I would not have raised money to run in a race that I cannot win,” Meadows said.

1819 News spoke with Chairman McClendon about why the new House plan flipped Meadows’ district to a majority-minority district.

“I am sure it has caused a stir in the House,” McClendon said, but maintained that the committee had to do it, “Because to not draw it would be a flagrant voting rights act violation. If you can draw a majority-minority district, you have to.”

Susan Dubose, who is a Republican candidate for the State House of Representatives, also expressed some concerns about the redistricting plan.

Dubose lives in the affluent gated community at Greystone, in northern Shelby County. Greystone presently is in House District 45 represented by State Rep. Dickie Drake (R-Leeds). In the new House plan, Dubose would remain in House District 45; but the new plan moves most of her Greystone neighbors to House District 48, represented by State Rep. Jim Carns (R-Vestavia).

House District 45 was split in the 2017 court-ordered redistricting plan so that the St. Clair County portion of Leeds was in House District 50, and the Jefferson and Shelby County portions of Leeds would be in House District 45.

“This plan fixed that and I support that,” Dubose said. “Leeds should be intact and so should Greystone.”

1819 News asked Dubose if she would rather run against Drake or Carns and she answered, “Drake.”

The redistricting plans passed along party lines and will now be converted into bill format to be introduced on Thursday after the full legislature gavels in for the special session. The legislature must pass redistricting plans before the 2022 elections. The major party primaries are not until May 24, but qualifying begins in December. The legislature needs to have all four plans in place before qualifying so that candidates know which districts they are in. If there are no major disagreements, the four redistricting plans could be passed in just five legislative days and the special session could be over by Wednesday.