Lincoln County’s current eight districts, each represented by three county commissioners for a total of 24, could see some changes in the next year as redistricting occurs after the 2020 Census.
Robin Roberts, executive director of the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS), spoke to the Lincoln County Commission in November, explaining how that process will work and the limitations currently set forth under the state constitution. Since 1970, legislative districts at the federal, state and local levels have been constitutionally mandated to be redrawn every 10 years to adjust for population shifts and changes.
“As most of you know, the census is going to be taken in 2020,” Roberts said. “We should have the final numbers near the end of 2020 or early in 2021. At that time, the county legislative body will be charged with redistricting the entire county.”
Of particular interest locally will be the county’s legislative body, the Lincoln County Commission, which cannot have any more than 25 members, he said, adding that each district cannot be represented by any more than three commissioners. The minimum number of commissioners is nine, he continued, noting that among the first steps recommended in the process is the development of a plan and the appointment of a redistricting or reapportionment committee. That committee can be composed of commissioners, as well as private citizens, he said, urging the involvement of the county’s election registrar in the process.
Redistricting within the county could also impact the Lincoln County Board of Education, which currently has eight members, one representing each of the county’s eight districts.
“There’s nothing to restrict you to the district numbers that you have now,” said Roberts, referring to the eight districts currently in place within the county and adding that the county could increase its number of districts to as many as 24.
“You have 24 current commissioners – you can go to 24 districts,” he said, later adding, “The number of commissioners you have is on the large side. In fact, there are only 13 counties in the State of Tennessee that have as many commissioners as you do.
“Some of the larger counties have much smaller commissions,” he continued, making note of Shelby County where 13 commissioners represent over 900,000 people. “Each commissioner in Lincoln County represents 1,390 people, based on the 2010 census.
“... It is something for you to consider,” he said. “Is the commission body size necessary for it to be the size that it is? Would it be more effective and more efficient? And I’m not encouraging you to do one thing or another – I’m just saying this is the best time to do it, because you’re about to redraw districts. You’re going to do it one year before the election. It doesn’t change anybody’s existing term. You will go through August of 2022 in your existing term, regardless of what you do with your districts.”
Roberts added that Lincoln County is a very well managed county as he went on to commend the current and preceding county mayors, as well as county commissioners – “Lincoln County has been very blessed,” he said. “You all have a great group of county officials engaged here.”