A resolution to redraw voting district lines in Dale County was rescinded one day before a Nov. 24 deadline to approve the change in advance of the primary election next year.
At the Dale County Commission meeting Nov. 23, the three members of the commission present voted to rescind the resolution to redraw the lines for two commission districts.
The decision to rescind became necessary after the commission learned that the legal notification of the resolution, set to run in the Nov. 11 edition of the legal newspaper of record located in the Dale County seat, did not run.
“(The Ozark newspaper) had all the information and they confirmed that it would be printed. I don’t know what caused the problem but we got a call after print date that they didn’t get it printed,” explained Commission Chairman Steve McKinnon. “So we had to rescind the resolution and have to do it again. It will come into effect in 2024.
“It was not a commission nor an administrator issue,” McKinnon said. “We voted to run (the legal notice of the redistricting) in that paper at our meeting.
“They dropped the ball on it and now there is nothing that we can do,” he added.
Commissioner Charles “Chic” Gary made the motion to rescind the redistricting resolution. Commissioner Frankie Wilson seconded the motion. Gary, McKinnon and Wilson voted to rescind the motion. Commissioners Chris Carroll and Donald Grantham were not present at the meeting.
At issue at two previous commission meetings and one commission work session was how to redraw the lines with the least disruption to the existing voting districts.
At the Nov. 2 work session, the commissioners met with Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission Executive Director Scott Farmer to hear options to resolve a population deviation revealed by a recently released census date.
The recent census revealed about a 25 percent deviation between Commissioners Charles ‘Chic” Gary’s District 3, with a population of 14,068, and Commissioner Chris Carroll’s District 1, with a population of 10,912.
At a commission meeting Oct. 26, Famer told the commission that the recommendation would be to change the district lines in order to get to a 10 percent population deviation.
The timeline to redistrict was more compressed than it ordinarily would have been because the census numbers were not released until the end of August with a primary election set for May 24, 2022.
With the impending primary, and the legal public notification requirements before any such redistricting, Dale County Attorney Henry Steagall suggested that the commission begin the redistricting process as soon as possible.
At the meeting Nov. 2, Farmer presented the commission with an option that reflected the district lines after moving a “little triangle” of some 1,444 people—mostly within the city limits of Ozark—that would put all the districts back in compliance. Gary and Carroll, the two commissioners directly impacted by Farmer’s proposal, agreed to the proposal presented.
The formal consideration of the proposed plan was to be addressed at the Nov. 23 commission meeting and the legal public notice announcing the proposed plan was set to run in the Ozark newspaper Nov. 11 and 17. Maps of the proposed district boundaries had been available for public review at the county website at www.dalecountyal.org, the county commission office and municipal offices in Ariton, Daleville, Midland City, Newton, Ozark and Pinckard.
In other business, the commission voted to cancel the scheduled Dec. 28 meeting. “We do this every year,” McKinnon said. “By law we are only required to have one commission meeting per month.”
The next meeting of the Dale County Commission is Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the government building in Ozark. A work session begins at 10 a.m. and is followed immediately by a voting meeting. Both meetings are open to the public.