New districts benefit representativesPublished 9:35pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Legislators must redraw congressional lines every 10 years after the census to equalize populations in each district. Every state in the union is required to have their new district lines drawn prior to next year’s congressional elections. While most states are in the throes of addressing congressional redistricting, Alabama is not one of them. Ours is done and ready for the 2012 elections. Alabama’s new Republican majority legislature saved the state about $500,000 by addressing congressional reapportionment in the regular session instead of in a special session, which most states require.
During the past decade, Alabama’s population basically kept pace with the national population growth. Therefore, we will keep our same seven seats. Each congressperson will represent approximately 683,000 people, up from 635,000 last decade.
It became obvious early on that the mission to redraw the new districts would be void of serious controversy. It appears that efforts were made to appease the current sitting congressional members. There are very few changes to most of the state’s seven districts.
The six Republicans will still represent vastly white and largely rural populations and the lone Democrat will still have a district that is almost two thirds black and even more urban. This 7th District Democratic seat is held by freshman Democrat Terri Sewell. Sewell is a Birmingham attorney and Selma native. She is Harvard educated and very articulate and astute.
This district was originally drawn in 1990 specifically to have a majority black population. Earl Hilliard occupied the seat for 12 years, and then Artur Davis represented it for eight. Sewell was elected last year. Her 7th District lost population from the last census so map drawers made up most of her shortage from Jefferson County. They also extended the district’s boundaries into the black neighborhoods of west Montgomery and picked up Lowndes County. These people probably prefer being in a Democratic district. Sewell’s 7th District is now 63.6 percent black.
Our congressional delegation should have smooth sailing in 2012. The legislature did them right.