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County to address redistricting: Size of commission likely to come up

Seven commissioners will be recommended by the Committee on Committees to lead the redistricting process for Washington County.
The Committee on Committees is a five-member team elected by the Commission to appoint members of the county’s standing committees, which are Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural; Education; General Health and Welfare; Public Safety; and Public Works and Planning.
Current members are Mark Ferguson, chair, Doyle Cloyd, Sam Humphreys, Richard Matherly and Gerald Sparks.
Members met Feb. 3 for the purpose of appointing commissioners to a Redistricting Committee.
Every 10 years, Washington County is required by the state statute to consider redistricting.
County Attorney John Rambo said the committee will be made up of commissioners, school board members and constables. The deadline for a redistricting plan is the first of 2012, he said.
The size of the Washington County Commission could be affected by the redistricting. Though the commission is already at the maximum-allowed 25 members, that number could be reduced during the next election.
All commissioners need to represent the same approximate amount of people, and one to three commissioners are allowed per district. Reducing the number of commissioners enlarges the size of the area each serves.
“It (redistricting) will not reduce the terms of the current commissioners,” Rambo said, adding they will all serve the full four years.
During the meeting, Rambo expressed concern from the Election Commission members about the redistricting completed in 2001.
“It really affects their work,” he said, referring to the multiple plans submitted before a final number of commissioners could be agreed upon.
Though Election Commission members did not want to be voting members of the Redistricting Committee, Rambo said they wanted to remind members of the amount of time that goes into re-drawing the districts.
“My only concern is having people on it who have experience in this field,” said Chairman Mark Ferguson in his recommendation of commissioners Gerald Sparks and Greg Matherly. He later made a third nomination of Alpha Bridger.
Ferguson then asked remaining committee members to make a nomination. Matherly nominated Roger Nave; Sparks nominated Ben Bowman; Humphreys nominated David Shanks; and Cloyd nominated Ferguson.
Humphreys made the motion to recommend the seven commissioners during the Feb. 28 Commission meeting. The motion was seconded by Matherly and passed unanimously.