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County OKs new districts

Changes are coming to some Dallas County districts if the Commission’s current plan is approved by the Justice Department.

Members of the Dallas County Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve the new districts, which leaves the ball in the department’s court.

Some people, Probate Judge Kim Ballard said, could see significant shifts.

“There was some pretty major moving around of people in District 2,” he said. “There were some changes because of the influx of people to Valley Grande.”

Every district saw at least some population shifts, however, Ballard said the commissioners were able to work through any changes. He also said there had been little feedback from the community, which shows people have no issues with the changes.

“That indicates that the public is very comfortable with the concessions these four guys made with their district lines,” he said. “They know their districts and they may have lost some territory they didn’t want to lose. Some of that had to take place.”

The commission worked with W. Myles Mayberry III and others with Demographic Research Services at Alabama State University. Ballard said their assistance helped the county move light years faster in establishing districts than in the past.

“We had some very capable help,” he said. “We worked with Alabama State University and I wish everyone could see the computer hardware they have. It is amazing. We could not have done this without their help.”

Mayberry, who was at the public hearing and commission meeting, said there is no state law defining populations and percentages in each district. Regulations, he said, are established by court cases.

Some commissioners expressed concerns over when the lines would become official. Because of upcoming elections, Dallas County Commissioner Larry Nickles said it will be difficult to launch campaigns without knowing if they are addressing voters in the correct district.

There is no timeline on when the district lines will be made official.

Districts 1 and 4 saw small increases, while Districts 2 and 3 saw decreases.

The Dallas County Commission’s 2010 Census Data showed 9,467 people in District 1, the proposed draft plan for the districts shows 11,086.

The District 2 Census data showed 13,162, and the draft plan showed 10,874. The Census data for District 3 showed 11,747 and the data plan showed 11,100. District 4 showed 9,444 under the census count and the data plan showed 10,760.

Throughout the process of establishing new lines, Mayberry said Dallas County leaders were always receptive to the plans.

“We have worked with a lot of cities and commissions and Dallas County made this very easy,” he said. “I think it speaks well of the leadership here how willing they were to work together to get this done.”
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