When the city opted to shift to single-member districts in 1989 — meaning that each district is represented by a specific councilor and school board member — it included a provision ensuring that the districts would be responsive to changes in census data so that the populations of each district would remain roughly equal.
“If you’ve got unequal districts, the weight of one person’s vote in a smaller district bears a heavier weight than if you’ve got a very large district,” assistant city attorney Julie Barnard told councilors Tuesday. “The goal is to try to get the population between districts as balanced as possible. That’s the primary thing driving this.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council approved a contract with Crimcard Consulting Services to lead the project for an amount not to exceed $175,000. Crimcard was founded in 2010 by Kareem Crayton and has served in an advisory role during redistricting processes for Los Angeles, Alabama and North Carolina.
Crayton, along with Doug Turner of the Birmingham-based public policy firm Censeo, will draft several redistricted maps before submitting a final remapping proposal to the council’s Census 2020 Redistricting Committee on Feb. 12.
“My general commitment to this is that we should always have transparent processes that are data-driven and ultimately give you (the council) what you want — and what the public wants — which is a reasonably fair outcome that’s both legally defensible and also practical,” Crayton told councilors during a committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.
District 8 Councilor Carol Clarke remarked that Crayton is “someone really credible in this area of work” and described him as a “stellar” choice to head the process.
If any changes to the district map are approved by the council, they will first be effective in the 2025 municipal election, unless a council seat is unexpectedly vacated and a special election is called before then.