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Concerned citizens have own district drawing

By By Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
A group of local residents, who call themselves Concerned Madison Citizens, want to serve as a resource to city government officials, in order to represent community concerns, according group leader John Allen.
About a dozen people, including Mayor Jan Wells, met recently to review their list of current issues. Topping their list is the redistricting issue.
Group member Bruce Tucker explained to the group how he and Allen went about drawing up a redistricting map.
"We did redistricting from scratch," he said.
The concerned citizens' plan was devised logically, not politically, he said.
The city has retained professional consultant firm Bridge &Slaughter, LLC to develop a redistricting plan. Bridge &Slaughter's redistricting map has been on display in public places around the city, and the city has been soliciting public input during recent weeks. City council members have reported that they have not received any public input.
Tucker wants to know exactly why city officials did not consider the map he and Allen drew up. He said they constructed a redistricting plan, based on the same census data as Bridge &Slaughter, but without breaking census blocks.
Tucker claims that the Bridge &Slaughter plan was devised such that city council members remain in their current districts. He also alleges that census blocks were broken, in order to accomplish their plan.
Redistricting is a process that occurs every ten years, based on revised census demographic statistics. The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for approval of all redistricting plans. One of the requirements is that minorities do not get diluted, as a result of redistricting. This factor makes fair voter redistricting a difficult task in Madison.
Madison is difficult to redistrict because, "It has gotten "whiter" over the last 10 years, Tucker said.
"There are less minorities, that are less concentrated," concerned citizen Ron Klein said.
They also described Madison as a very "salt and pepper" community, implying that the city is racially integrated.
Tucker has not given up on his quest to facilitate redistricting without breaking census blocks, subdivisions or neighborhoods. He said the city is going to receive the input they have not yet received.
Other topics of interest to the CMC include the Madison hospital issue, reorganization of the city's form of government, downtown development, a city civic center, greenways and trails and the 2004 city election.
The redistricting discussion dominated the meeting and there was little discussion on other concerns.
However, concerned citizen Ed Collins did explain to other CMC attendees the action he has undertaken to stop shotgun shooting and hunting in the city limits.
Regarding the hospital situation, Allen said he has more than 6,000 inputs from residents and is actively working with state hospital board officials to open the door for Madison to get its own hospital.
"We are looking for people in each and every subdivision," Allen said. "We have no hidden agendas at all."
"We want to get educated on issues and bring our concerns in front of the city government," he said.
Allen invited concerned Madison citizens to visit the CMC website: www.madisoncitizens.org.

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