New House Districts

Marshall County has been "made whole," Rep. Wes Kitchens reported after the special legislative session on redistricting. Rather than the county being carved up into 5 House districts, we are back to the historical 5. 

For the last 10 years, Marshall County has had been divided into 5 House districts.

Starting next year, we will go back to having just our two main districts, District 26 and District 27, House member Wes Kitchens reported.

Redistricting takes place every 10 years following the Census. The one man, one vote rule requires districts to be roughly equal in population. Marshall County had enough population this time to just have our two main districts and those districts are both completely in Marshall County.

“It was important to me that we get back to two districts,” Rep. Kitchens said. “It was something I campaigned on.”

While Marshall County’s 5 legislators have all gotten along wonderfully for many years, one issue to having just two districts is that a single “no” vote among the local delegation can kill a piece of local legislation. Also, Rep. Kitchens said, there’s just the simplicity of it.

“The City of Guntersville actually had 3 representatives,” he said. “You had to know which side of the street your district was in to know who you representative was in some cases.”

When redistricting took place in 2010, Rep. Kitchens said, they worked off a 1% deviation, meaning a district could be plus or minus one percent of the ideal population. This time, they worked off 5%. it made it easier, but it was still a challenge.

“When you get to shifting district lines around the state, it shifts everything,” he said. “You could change a line in Mobile and it has an effect on north Alabama. My goal going into this was to get Marshall County to two representatives if we could and no more than 3 at the most.”

The new district map has Guntersville entirely in Rep. Kitchens’ district. Boaz, Albertville and Douglas are all in Rep. Kerry Rich’s district.

Rep. Kitchens noted that the brow of Sand Mountain was historically the dividing line, but that couldn’t quite happen this time. Asbury ended up in his district so he does have part of his territory on Sand Mountain. He also has a bit of territory out towards Nixon Chapel.

Rep. Kitchens said he felt it was in the county’s best interest to have only two House districts.

There are almost 50,000 people in District 27, he said. He is 4.88 percent above the ideal number of 47,500. He said District 26 has about 800 fewer population than District 27.

“The courts had said previously counties needed to be kept whole when possible and that redistricting committees should keep precincts whole and they should not look at race,” Rep. Kitchens said. “These districts do that.”

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