Residents speak out on Tuscaloosa redistricting efforts

Despite the early hour, more than a dozen residents filed into the Tuscaloosa City Council Chamber Wednesday, lining up to voice their concerns regarding the city’s proposed redistricting maps.

Every 10 years, local and state governments are required to update their district maps according to the information gleaned from the latest U.S. Census.

In Tuscaloosa there are two proposed maps. Map A puts Tuscaloosa’s historic neighborhoods into one district, said Tuscaloosa City Council President Kip Tyner. Map B keeps most districts the same, but Districts 1 and 4 will be altered according to the population changes. You can read more about the redistricting proposals right here.

Nearly 20 Tuscaloosans addressed the council, speaking with a five-minute limit.

Many of those who spoke said Tuscaloosa is not represented accurately, considering some of the city’s most minority-populated neighborhoods are not represented by minorities. The city’s population is 51% white and 44% Black, with other minorities making up the remainder, according to the latest U.S. Census.

Mike Altman, who lives in District 1, said the city needs a map that’s fair and legal.

“I moved over to District 1 in 2017,” Altman said. “I look at my neighbors and I’m the only white family on my street. I look at my neighbors and realize the voting power in the African American community in this city is being limited by the district lines. It just hurts me and it frustrates me, and I look at my neighbors and I want them to have the same power in this city as I do.”

Altman presented an alternative map that would turn four of the city’s seven districts into a minority-majority district.

Altman isn’t alone in supporting that idea.

“The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is supporting this change of this districting,” said Tuscaloosa SCLC President Rev. James Williams. “I want to see Tuscaloosa become a leading city in in doing what it right and what is fair.”

District 6 Council Member John Faile said the plan is to have a new map in place before April.

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