The following clarification about the drawing of new districts in county government was provided by veteran reporter Jimmie Covington.
By Jimmie Covington
I have written several times that a two-thirds majority (9 votes) is required for the commissioners to approve changes in the district lines. That is indeed what the county charter says.
However, through research of my own, I have discovered that a Chancery Court ruling in 2012 held that state law prevailed on the issue and only a majority vote (7 votes) is needed.
The commission voted 8-5 on Oct. 8, 2012, not to appeal the ruling leaving it in effect. Seven Democrats and one Republican voted against the appeal and five Republicans supported the appeal. That allowed a single-member district plan approved 7-5 earlier in the year to go into effect.
I would guess that since the ruling was only a local court ruling, lawyers could argue that a person or group with proper standing could file a new lawsuit if they chose to do so. However, as it stands now, Democrats are in the diver’s seat in approving the new lines and if commissioners split along party lines on the new districts, the Democrats on the commission will prevail.