Workshops to look at district lines, reduction of commissioners

Published 10:49 pm Monday, October 11, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The first of three scheduled workshops to discuss county districts and the number of commissioners will be held at 6 p.m.Thursday at the Carter County Courthouse.

The workshops areĀ open to the public.

Rules and Bylaws Committee Chairman Randall Jenkins said the workshops are intended “to look at the lines making sure everything is even (and to) look at our committees to make sure that our plan adds up. Then (during) our final committee meeting date on Nov. 2, we will vote on our final recommendations to send to the full commission on Nov. 9.”

Jenkins said the county is within the 10 percent deviations required by law, but the first part of the workshops will deal with deciding whether any lines need to be moved.

Secondly, the committee will review committee layouts and the size of the commission to decide whether downsizing is recommended.

“If we downsize the number of commissioners, one major issue that has come up in the past is how will our committees look,” Jenkins said. “We have three sets of main standing committees right now and with three sets, three commissioners in each district works out. If we take one commissioner away from each district, we start looking at adding more nights, more meetings, and more workload to already overworked commissioners so that is a process that we have to look at as a whole.”

According to the 2020 census report, Carter County has a total population of 56,356.

The breakdown of each district by population including the increase and decrease are as follows:
– District 1: 7,295 – an increase of 251.
– District 2: 6,680 – a decrease of 365.
– District 3: 6,934 – a decrease of 111.
– District 4: 7,062 – an increase of 18.
– District 5: 7,567 – an increase of 523.
– District 6: 6,402 – a decrease of 643.
– District 7: 7,580 – an increase of 536.
– District 8: 6,836 – a decrease of 209.

After the commission votes, the final results will be sent to the state comptroller’s office.

If downsizing is recommended to the commission, the commissioners must vote to approve the change, as the commission is the only body that can alter its composition.

Recommendations to lower the number of commissioners have been on the docket two times since Jenkins was elected but was voted down both times. “I think the only reason it has failed after gaining support over the years is that it wasn’t the right time to do it. I think the right time to do it is during this redistricting time,” he added.

“I ran my campaign on downsizing the commission,” he added. “You get too many chiefs in one sitting and you can’t get anything done.”