Calera City Council approves temporary voting plan

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Calera City Council on Thursday approved a resolution authorizing its attorneys to submit a new and temporary voting plan to the U.S. Department of Justice, possibly leading to the approval of last year’s election results.

The plan, based on voter registration data as current as July 1, includes a proposal for an at-large city election for a six-seat council, said attorney Dan Head. The council now has five seats.

The Department of Justice rejected the city’s 2008 redistricting plan, arguing it eliminates the city’s only black voting district. Mayor-elect Jon Graham and newly elected council members have not been sworn in as a result of the department’s decision. Mayor George Roy and the incumbent city council remain in office.

If the city were to have an at-large election, the top six vote-getters would be elected to office. Head said the election is feasible based on the voter registration data.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10,742 people live in Calera. Of that number, 5,814 are registered voters. Nineteen percent of Calera’s registered voters are black, Head said.

“With six council members, if each one got 15 percent of the vote, they’ll be elected,” Head said. “If (voters) wanted a black candidate, they’d have a viable chance of winning.”

Head said the new plan will be expedited to the Department of Justice for consideration.

“We’re asking them to put us at the top of the pile,” Head said. “Believe me, we’re gonna be on them about it.”

If the city gets the green light from the Department of Justice and the federal court, an election would be held by the end of the year, Head said.

Following the election, city leaders will have the option to draw new district lines.