The Metro Council gave preliminary approval Thursday for a redistricting proposal that would give members new political boundaries four months before Metro’s August election.
Unanimously, the council on the second of three votes approved new council and school board district lines based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data. The new political maps cleared the Metro Planning Commission last week after the planning department staff expedited the redrawing process to ensure completion well before candidates’ May 19 qualifying deadline.
The council’s vote on Thursday likely sets the stage for final approval on Tuesday. The vote came after little discussion and no disagreement with the new lines themselves. Many chose to thank the planning department for its work.
“I haven’t sensed a great opposition to this plan,” Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde said. “I think the planning [department] did a fine job of listening to us, listening to the public, figuring out ways to make a painful experience less painful.”
The greatest changes with the proposed council lines are in southeast Davidson County near Antioch, by far the fastest growing part of the city. That area has gained a council seat while the northeast part of the county lost one.
The only noteworthy commentary Thursday came from Councilman Jim Gotto, who also serves as a planning commission member and a state representative. Gotto voted for the redistricting bill Thursday, but said he doesn’t know how he’ll vote next week.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do on third reading,” Gotto said. “I think I know, but I want to reserve my right to change my mind.
“What we do,” Gotto said of moving forward with redistricting, “is we create a possible hardship and issue with those folks that have already pulled petitions, they have [named] treasurers. They’re raising money, they’re campaigning and they’re spending money. And they may have spent money in areas that they are no longer campaigning for.”
At the state legislature, Gotto has proposed moving Metro’s 2015 election to November 2016 to avoid the planning department’s having to hastily redistrict in the future.
If the council doesn’t adopt the redistricting bill next Tuesday, then members have 90 days to come up with a redistricting plan that would then go before the public on a referendum vote.
Election day is Aug. 4.