Knox neighborhoods split in redistricting

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Updated: with new map from Jack Vaughan which is aligned with main map. Top shows current House districts; bottom shows proposed new districts.

With legislators set to vote on state House and Senate redistricting, you would think more people would care. It’s been said that elections are when voters pick their legislators. Redistricting is when legislators pick their voters.

Unless a court overturns them, these districts will be with us for the next 10 years. I’m going to share two maps and some links, so you can check it out.

Betty Bean has written here about how Rep. Gloria Johnson’s District 13 was sent across the state and a new District 90 came to Knoxville. 90 looks a lot like 13, except Johnson’s house is not in it and a bunch of Rep. Eddie Mannis’ West Knox neighborhoods are. The district extends from the old East Towne Mall to Cedar Bluff Road, actually.

Mannis picked up Sequoyah and two huge precincts in South Knox County from Johnson. You’ve gotta figure the saber suns of redistricting did not smile on Johnson or Mannis.

This map shows population gains and losses statewide. Losses in rural West and East and heavy growth in the area around Nashville. The Knox County inset shows Districts 13 and 15 need a few more people, while West Knox County needs fewer.

In Congressional districting, Nashville/Davidson County was split into three districts, making it hard for long-time Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper to win reelection.

The most egregious gerrymandering, however, came from the least likely folks – Knox County’s three state senators – Randy McNally, Becky Massey and Richard Briggs. McNally’s District 5, which previously grabbed Powell, now extends from Anderson County to downtown Knoxville, including part of Lonsdale and all of Oakwood-Lincoln Park. Residents of Parkridge, Fourth & Gill and Lonsdale are discovering their neighborhoods split apart. Democratic Party chair Matt Shears says he can walk from his house through three state Senate districts in five minutes.

“Why is Knoxville’s Black community split among three state Senate districts? Why is Lonsdale in the same district (5) as Tellico Village?” Shears asks.

His colleague Jack Vaughan is more forgiving. “The census was delayed,” he says to explain why the maps were so slow in coming.

Shears is mad. “The legislature drew the maps in a backroom with the help of highly paid and ethically compromised gerrymandering consultants,” he wrote. “They were designed with little to no input from citizens, released as blurry PDFs and then rammed through committees within a matter of days.”

Vaughan said both House and Senate districts will split precincts, putting a huge burden on the Knox County Election Commission. Knox County Commission and the school board were just redistricted with the current precinct boundaries.

When a precinct is split, generally the election commission creates two new precincts – 24 North and 24 Sequoyah, for instance. Vaughan said in District 90, West Hills, Norwood, Inskip and North Hills are split.

Find current district maps here.

Find the new commission and school board districts here (Option 3B was approved)

Find the proposed state House districts here. Gloria Johnson gets District 90. It’s as tall and skinny as she is.

Proposed House districts (Map by Jack Vaughan)

And the proposed Senate districts here.

This ‘n’ that
  • Blue Bloods has gone politically correct – no more brutal fights. In the most recent episode, Jamie makes everyone entering the precinct house salute him. Erin is troubled by crude remarks on social media. Frank finds a captain shaking down merchants to support a food pantry. And Danny, the roughest/toughest Reagan, busts a 100-year-old Jimmy Buffett impersonator, played by (wait for it!) the real Jimmy Buffett. These people like each other too much. Where’s the tension? The conflict? Bring back Joe Hill.
  • Ted Kaczynski, the 79-year-old Unabomber, has been transferred to a prison medical facility in North Carolina. He is serving multiple life sentences. A Harvard grad, Kaczynski lived in the woods and mailed bombs over 17 years that killed three people and injured 23, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
  • Knox County legislative delegation forum will livestream from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22. It’s sponsored by the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the League of Women Voters Knoxville/Knox County.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.


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