Jefferson County Commission

Tyson Assures Ensley Residents She’s Not Trying to Get Rid of Them in Commission Redistricting

JeffCo Commission Zoom meeting Oct. 21, 2021. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Commissioner Sheila Tyson said today she has fielded phone calls from Ensley residents who think she’s trying to cut them from the Jefferson County district she represents.

Nothing could be further from the truth, she said during a brief meeting of the commission at the Bessemer Justice Center.

“It wasn’t that if you’re underpopulated, you try to get rid of what you’ve got,” Tyson said. “It makes no sense. I just wanted to straighten that up.”

During the Oct. 5 commission committee meeting, Board of Registrars Chairman Barry Stephenson presented three plans for evenly distributing the county population between its five districts using 2020 U.S. Census numbers.

Commissioners advanced all three maps for public review. A hearing on the plans will be conducted during the Nov. 4 commission meeting. The county’s population increased by 2.2%, from 658,466 in 2010 to 674,721 in 2020. Dividing that total by five yields a target of 134,944 residents per commission district.

Currently, District 1, represented by Commissioner Lashunda Scales, is underpopulated by 9.1% and needs to add 12,255. Tyson’s District 2 is underpopulated by 10.1% and needs to add 13,572.

“I have been getting several calls from my district,” Tyson said, specifying Ensley Neighborhood officers. “They have received phone calls about it, saying I wanted to swap out the Ensley box for Midfield and that is not true. When you’re underpopulated, you hold what you have and you pull from the districts that are overpopulated.

“We have to pull from Districts 3, 4 and 5,” she said. “That’s the process.”

Commission President Jimmie Stephens acknowledged that each commissioner runs to represent a district.

“Once we’re elected, we represent everyone and you can’t tell whether we’re Democrat or Republican when we sit down and to do our job for you, the citizens of Jefferson County,” he said. “The redistricting that Commissioner Tyson spoke about will be done. We have three options. We will deliberate those, we will receive input from our citizens and we will choose one of those three options that has been presented to us to move the county forward in that same nondiscriminatory manner.”