Home National news Democrats release state Senate district map: ‘More cities, more communities together’

Democrats release state Senate district map: ‘More cities, more communities together’

by PRIDE Newsdesk

Sen. Jeff Yarbro and Sen. Raumesh Akbari

Nearly every city in the state and 87 counties are kept whole in Tennessee Senate districts under a proposed statewide map released Friday by Senate Democrats.

“This proposal keeps communities together—whole counties and whole cities wherever possible,” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Tennessee Senate minority leader. “We want every member of every community to know that their voice matters to in the state Senate and that their vote will make a difference.”

Democrats are releasing their 33–district Senate proposal after gathering input directly from Tennesseans at five public community meetings across the state. Additionally, members of the Democratic caucus participated in dozens more meetings hosted by local organizations to discuss how districts should change in 2022.

“This is a fair map that directly incorporates feedback from people and organizations who told us to ‘please keep our city together,’” Sen. Raumesh Akbari said. “This is a map that keeps more cities and more communities together than ever before. It’s a map that makes senators more accountable to the voters they serve.”

Most of the districts in this proposal shift toward Middle Tennessee to accommodate for the region’s explosive population growth. But every district in the proposal retains core characteristics from the current map.

  •    Antioch is added to La Vergne & Smyrna’s Senate Seat: Senate District 13 maintains its base in western Rutherford County, but it now extends into southeast Nashville to create a full Senate District for like-communities of Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna along the I-24 corridor.
  •    Bradley County is unsplit. This proposal undoes a controversial decision from 2012: splitting Bradley County into two districts. Senate District 10 instead returns to Hamilton County with its lines around the city of Chattanooga and Senate District 9 takes in the whole of Bradley County along with McMinn, Meigs and Rhea counties.
  •    Full Senate Seat within Montgomery County: Following a decade where they county saw a near 30% growth in population, the city of Clarksville almost qualifies to have its very own state senate seat. In this proposal, Senate District 22 sheds two counties to the west and now captures the core of Clarksville along with unincorporated areas north of the Cumberland River.
  •    West Tenn. Districts get bigger: West Tennessee saw slow growth in many counties and population loss in others, a trend that forces senate districts to expand geographically. As such: Senate District 24 grows east from six to eight counties. Senate District 26 grows east from eight to nine counties. Senate District 27 grows from 5 to 6 counties. And Senate District 32 grows from Tipton County and a portion of Shelby County to three counties and a portion of Shelby.

To offer feedback on the senate district maps proposed by state Democrats, email <maps@tndemocrats.org>.

With or without public comment on draft maps, Republicans are expected to hold a vote on their preferred new district lines soon after the General Assembly reconvenes on Jan. 11.

To comply with the constitutional requirement of ‘one person, one vote,’ each senate district must have a “substantially equal population” close to 209,419. That population requirement means some counties must be split.

Of the eight counties that are divided between senate districts in this proposal, seven require the split due to population. Of the eight county splits in the current map, only five were required due to population.

Additionally, more than 20 cities that are divided in the current map are kept whole in this proposal, according to the caucus’ analysis.

Our goal was to draw districts that are faithful to cities, counties and natural community lines, Sen. Yarbro said.

“Voters don’t know the boundaries of their voting precinct, but they know their neighborhoods, their towns and the big roads nearby,” Sen. Yarbro said. “We should draw lines so they make sense for voters when they need to call their legislators, instead of only making sense on one day every four years when politicians need to call on voters.”

Before the 2022 election cycle, the Tennessee General Assembly must, by law, draw political boundaries so that Tennessee’s 33 senate districts have a roughly equal number of people.

The community districting process (also called redistricting or reapportionment) happens every 10 years after federal census officials release data showing the population of every city, town and county in the nation.

A good district map reflects a whole community or a community of shared interests, such as a city, neighborhood or group of people who have common policy concerns that would benefit from being drawn into a single district.

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