US Supreme Court decides Ward I case

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 11, 2002

City Councilman Bobby Harris will continue to be the representative of Ward 1 in Alabaster after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a nearly two-year fight by several city residents who claimed they were denied their right to vote in the 2000 City Council Race.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in May not to hear an appeal by several Weatherly residents.

The residents, led by Brenda Singer, sued the city following the 2000 election after their votes were not counted in the council race between Harris and Todd Goode.

Their votes were counted in the mayor’s race.

Harris, who is black, beat Goode, who is white, in a tight race in which the U.S. Department of Justice ruled the votes of some 200 residents could not be counted because the area of Ward 1 in which they lived was not pre-cleared for inclusion under the Voting Rights Act.

The city of Alabaster had annexed several homes in the Weatherly area, which is made up largely of white voters, before the election.

The annexations served to dilute the minority district of the city making it illegal as far as the courts were concerned.

The residents maintain Goode would have been the winner of the race had their votes been counted.

They appealed to the nation’s highest court after the Alabama Supreme Court upheld Harris’ election last year.

Harris said the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court finally puts an end to the controversy.

&uot;I have been the representative of Ward 1 and will continue to do so,&uot; Harris said. &uot;This puts an end to it.&uot;

Singer called the decision both &uot;frustrating&uot; and &uot;disappointing.&uot;

She said the decision does not necessarily end the fight.

&uot;We’ve had some talk about possible avenues we can take from here, but this is probably the end of it,&uot; Singer said.

&uot;We were surprised that (the U.S. Supreme Court) ruled this way. I really thought we had a case. For residents to be denied their right to vote, we think that was pretty important.&uot;

Singer said she was surprised at the time it took for the case.

&uot;This proves that justice is not swift,&uot; Singer said. &uot;The average person living in a city doesn’t know about this stuff until it actually happens to them.

&uot;I hope it will give (Alabaster city officials) something to think about the next time they take in a piece of land without having their paperwork in order,&uot; she said