Courts could decide Shelby Co. redistricting - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Courts could decide Shelby Co. redistricting

(WMC-TV) – The Shelby County Commission voted to start redistricting discussions from scratch on the advice of its attorney early Monday evening.

They were supposed to approve new voting district maps by December 31, but they can't agree.

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland said every citizen has a dog in the redistricting fight.

"You need representation that represents your views," he said.

Monday, the commission held an ad hoc to decide if each district will have one, two or three commissioners, but commissioners say the stalemate is about what's not being said in meetings.

"Some ulterior motive and I don't think it's about people," Roland said.

He said commissioners are vying for power over upcoming economic development.

"The consolidation fight, the school merger, all of it's about who's going to control that 385 corridor," he said. "Let's be honest with the people."

Commissioner Mike Ritz said commissioners who live in Memphis and the commissioners who live in the county are fighting over the loss or gain of one seat. Currently, Memphis has ten seats and the county has three.

"Several of us think that there should be four commissioners from the county," he said.

Several commissioners, including Ritz are term-limited, but he said others are basing their redistricting stance on re-election.

"They don't want to be in a district where they can't be re-elected," said Ritz, who added that some commissioners are drawing lines around voter trends to ensure each district will remain either majority Democrat or majority Republican.

"While it's never been specifically said in a meeting, that is the huge elephant in the room so to speak," he said.

Several commissioners filed a lawsuit, and it's possible that the Chancery Court will have to make the final decision on the redistricting impasse. That means the battle could last another three or four months.

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