Loudon County Redistricting Committee voted 8-3 Thursday to approve a new legislative district map that moves about 900 people west of Highway 444 from District 7 to District 1.
Loudon County Commissioners Bill Satterfield and David Meers motioned and seconded, respectively, to approve the new map called “Plan C.” Commissioners Julia Hurley and Matthew Tinker and Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw opposed.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years after the U.S. census. The idea is to give each commissioner a roughly equal proportion of the county’s population.
“It’s the one that moves the least amount of people,” Henry Cullen, county commissioner, said of Plan C, one of four potential plans. “It involved the least amount of voter movement and it made, to me, the most sense.”
Of the 17 members on the redistricting committee, 11 are voting members, which includes the 10 county commissioners and Bradshaw.
Cullen is chair of the redistricting committee and represents District 7 on commission. His district includes Tellico Village, which has the highest deviation from the ideal population for a district and the highest projected growth rate.
“We had to move some into District 1 in order to balance it out,” Cullen said, noting he will lose some constituents who support him. “A lot of the voters are my friends and neighbors.”
Plan C was developed during a Sept. 22 committee meeting.
Jim Davis, Loudon County Election Commission chairman, said the move of those 900 voters was the biggest change in the new legislative map.
“We have too many voters in District 7,” Davis said.
Meers, the committee’s vice chairman, agreed with Cullen that Plan C was a good option.
“We wanted to try to move as few voters as we can,” Meers said.
But Hurley said the committee should have discussed Plan C and Plan D on Thursday before members voted.
“We didn’t even get to talk about it,” Hurley said, emphasizing discussion of the plans took place after the vote. “That’s not what our jobs are.”
After opposing Plan C, Tinker said Plan D included Plan C with additions. He said he would like more residents that pay city taxes to move out of District 5 and into District 2, his Lenoir City district, which would have been a few thousand voters.
“Plan D was a late arrival to the party,” Tinker said. “C turned out to be the one most people liked the best and that’s the one we will go with for the next 10 years.”
Meers said Plan D would have “shuffled the deck” in Lenoir City.
“That would have caused the most changes in the county,” he said. “To me, out of the two plans, C would have made the sense.”
There are other changes between Districts 1 and 4 along Stockton Valley Road and Callaway Drive. District 4 had the highest negative deviation below the ideal population after the 2020 census.
Redistricting plans must be voted on by Loudon County Commission. The new map approved by the committee will be discussed during the Oct. 18 county commission workshop and considered for a vote Nov. 1.
The committee had sought complete work by Nov. 1. Redistricting plans for all 95 counties in Tennessee must be adopted by Jan. 1.
Loudon County has seven legislative districts. Districts 1, 2 and 5 have two commissioners while Districts 3, 4, 6 and 7 have one each. The three districts with two commissioners have more than 10,000 people living in them, while the four districts with one commissioner have about half as many.