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Rapson: Fayette ready for district voting changes

Qualifying starts in three short weeks for two seats on both the county commission and board of education, but the short time frame is not expected to cause a problem for district voting to be implemented in Fayette County this year, according to County Administrator Steve Rapson.

Elections staff will have to manually look up a candidate’s address to confirm they live in the appropriate new district, Rapson said.

A new voting district map could be approved as early as next week, as the federal judge in the district voting case will conduct a Feb. 18 hearing on the court-proposed map.

Whenever the new map is approved, the Fayette County elections office will have time to make the necessary adjustments to ensure the new district map is applied for the primary election, Rapson said. Early voting will start in that primary on April 28.

There will be some significant adjustments to make, as nine existing precincts will be split in two if the court’s map is adopted. Affected are the Blackrock, Fayetteville East, Hopeful, Morning Creek, Sandy Creek, Whitewater, Aberdeen, Oak Ridge and Jeff Davis precincts.

The new map is necessary to create a majority-minority district that comprises a majority of black voters in order to virtually guarantee that a black person will win election. In this case, that district is considered the fifth district, which will be up for grabs this May in the primary and in the November general election.

Under district voting, Fayette electors will no longer have the luxury of casting a ballot for all five representatives of the Fayette County Commission and the Fayette County Board of Education. Instead, voters will be limited to selecting just one of the five representatives based on which district the voter lives in.

U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten last May struck down the county’s at-large voting, agreeing with the NAACP and several individual plaintiffs that the elections format prevented black residents from electing “the candidate of their choice.” In his order, Batten noted that no black resident had ever been elected to the county commission or board of education.

The NAACP brought the suit under the federal Voting Rights Act. The group asked Judge Batten to draw the map to exclude incumbent district 5 officeholders: Leonard Presberg on the board of education and Allen McCarty on the county commission. The map proposed by the judge, created with help from the state legislature’s redistricting office, keeps Presberg and McCarty in the fifth district.

District voting is sure to change voting habits for every county resident. For the county commission and board of education posts, they will only be allowed to vote once every four years, whereas under at-large voting they could vote every two years.

District voting will also make it more challenging to recall a wayward elected official, as four-fifths of the county would be ineligible from starting the recall process or even voting in a recall election.



"The new map is necessary to create a majority-minority district that comprises a majority of black voters in order to virtually guarantee that a black person will win election. "

What a victory! Finally, the special needs of Black people that can only be met by another Black person representing them can be taken care of. All those special needs that are unique only to the Black race, like, ummmmm. Oh wait, we're all the same. There are no special needs for Black people.

Equality takes another hit. Good job NAACP. Whatever it takes to stay "relevant".

mudcat's picture

Specifically - "Elections staff will have to manually look up a candidate’s address to confirm they live in the appropriate new district, Rapson said."
Well that's good to have a plan. Now then, what happens when Steve Brown comes in to qualify for reelection to Post 4 and you look up his address and find that it is very much in Post 3? Who's going to tell him? Will you do a YouTube of that event for us?

Robert W. Morgan's picture

District 3 or 4. I have seen his silly little yellow car for years across from my cousin-in-law's place in Planterra which is for sure in District 3. If he still lives there it will be hard to qualify for Post 4. Surely he knows this and of course thought about that long before he thought about what was best for the county.

So then, what he gonna do? Seems like the choices are #1- Move into another district or #2 not run for county commission and use the district voting fiasco to run for state level office and then go down in flames - like Mary Kay will or #3 try to change the rules. I guess #4 is shut up and do nothing, but can't see that happening for the brown clown.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think so. You say?

Live free or die!

The judge adjusted the boundaries to allow each elected official to complete their term. Mr. Brown, should he run in November, will be the incumbent for post 3.

The post numbers and geography for the posts simply changed.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

That means all his voters and opponents have to live there as well. Hmmmmm. Methinks some serious opposition will emerge. Many who live there remember his ties to the westside developer, the bridge to nowhere, the slander of Tom Farr, the daycare ethics charge, the illegal building moratorium, etc, etc, etc. For you new people, this is a guy whose political career began based upon his railing against Photocircuits and their toxic leak with the unique position that the residents of Planterra (his home base) had no idea there was an industrial park over there until after they moved in. Some didn't know about the airport either. I guess the fact that all that land used to be zoned industrial wasn't known either. He was on the verge of asking for repartations for all Planterra residents when someone produced a deed addendum that Mayor Lenox (or City Manager Basinger) insisted be attached to all Planterra deeds that acknowledged the industrial park and the airport. Whoops never mind.

Then he beat a Delta pilot by a slight margin and became mayor - second worst in history, although he held onto first place for years until Stumpy came along. Attracting 5 opponents in his reelection bid tells you all you need to know about his popularity.

Well west (and central) PTC, it is your district and your representative. It is also the only district that is 100% pure PTC - no mongrelization with the rural types in the county. Vote wisely and good luck.

All my district has to do is find someone smarter and better and more fiscally astute than Commissioner Barlow.

Live free or die!

mudcat's picture

Actually it said both Brown and Todd were up in District 4. Since Todd lives in District 4 and Brown is in District 3, would it not have been better for the newspaper to add a line or two to clear up the confusion?

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