The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a committee’s recommendation to redraw the council district boundaries.
The 15-member redistricting committee, appointed by the 15 council members, had proposed new boundaries that included moving 46 precincts and more than 48,000 voters into new council districts. The committee met for several months and sent the final proposal to the council in late October.
That means that candidates that want to run in the 12 council districts will need to follow the updated district boundaries for the upcoming 2022 election, when all council and at-large seats are up for re-election. Many candidates have already filed paperwork with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. But to officially file with the Fayette County Clerk’s office, candidates must get 100 signatures of voters in their districts. To do that, they must know the district boundaries.
Council districts with the most changes include Districts 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11.
During a Tuesday special meeting, Councilwoman Jennifer Reynolds, who represents District 11, said she was concerned that neighborhoods that were once part of her district will no longer be in that district.
“It affects the culture of the district,” Reynolds said of how groups and neighborhoods in council districts work together on specific projects.
Other members expressed reservations about not moving the map forward on Tuesday, which was the last council meeting before the Jan. 7 filing deadline. The council will be on its winter break for the rest of December.
If the council made last-minute changes to the proposed map, it would look like political jockeying, Councilman Richard Moloney cautioned.
“I’ve been through this three times,” said Moloney, a long-time council member.
“We followed this process and we keep politics out of it,” Moloney said. “I don’t want to be like Frankfort or Washington D.C. If we don’t pass this, then who’s going to do it? “
It’s hard to lose neighborhoods that council members have represented in the past and then represent new areas, he said. “It doesn’t matter what you pick up, you all still have the same heart to serve the citizens of Fayette County.”
All city-wide races are nonpartisan.
Two members of the redistricting committee that helped redraw the lines have since said they are considering running for a council district seat.
Brenda Monarrez, who represented Council District 4 on the committee, has filed paperwork with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance to now run in District 4. Incumbent Councilwoman Susan Lamb announced last month that she would not run for re-election. Monarrez filed in mid-November, after the committee had sent its proposed changes to the council for its review in late October.
Rock Daniels, who represented District 2 on the committee, has said he is considering running for either District 2 or District 11, depending on where his precinct is moved. He also said he may not run at all.
As part of the proposed changes, Daniels’ precinct in Meadowthorpe was moved from District 2 to District 11.
Daniels has said he had not proposed moving his precinct to District 11. That was a suggestion by another member of the committee. Math, not politics, was behind the committee’s decision, he said. The districts have to be within five percent of the optimal district size of 26,881 people. Because certain council districts needed more population, it created a cascading affect on neighboring districts, committee members have said.
Neither Daniels or Monarrez have filed with the Fayette County Clerk’s office yet.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe put a review of redistricting practices and policies into a council committee. Bledsoe said that having people on the redistricting committee who later decide to run is one of the issues that needs to be reviewed.