Alabaster approves redistricting of election wards

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Following a public hearing and input from the community, the Alabaster City Council approved an ordinance to change the boundaries of election wards in the city during a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 24.

The Alabaster City Council previously held a public hearing for a version of the redistricting on Nov. 27, 2023 but voted to postpone the ordinance follow public feedback. Afterward, city leaders held a series of three meeting with concerned citizens and examined how to approach Ward 1 which has historically been a minority majority ward in the city.

“During those meetings, we learned a lot about our community,” Mayor Scott Brakefield said. “We learned about how our community has grown since 1990, We went all the way back to the census of 1990, provided a lot of data and looked at how our city has grown, how we have diversified—our city has become a very rich and diverse community. But also, we got to learn about how there is still a significant amount of concern about the protection of our historic Ward 1.”

City councils are required to set new ward boundaries every 10 years to coincide with the most recent census data and due to the city growth since 2010, some ward boundaries have been changed in the map which aims to balance the population in each ward. The proposed redistricting is based off of data from the 2020 Decennial Federal Census.

“While our community has become very diverse and we have become very diverse in our hiring practices at the city of Alabaster and in our employment in the city of Alabaster, we have not crossed that threshold in diversity when it comes to elected officials,” Brakefield said. “We took some time over those three meetings to listen to concerns, to talk about ideas, to address very difficult topics to talk about. But over those three meetings, we kind of came to a consensus that, while nothing is perfect, what we have that we are working with right now probably offers us the best opportunity to see an increased level of diversity in our elected officials and our elected body.”

During the meeting on June 24, the Alabaster City Council held a public hearing on the ordinance which amends Section 14-6 of the Alabaster Code of ordinances and re-designates the geographical boundaries of election Wards 1 through 7 in the city.

Gerry Bivins, a citizen in Ward 1 and a longtime Alabaster resident, came forward during the hearing to speak against the ordinance.

Bivins expressed that the members of the Ward 1 community are concerned that there will continue to be a lack of diverse representation on the city council due to the proposed redistricting.

“There are other cities in the county, in the state that have more than seven wards or districts to ensure that the minority community have representation of diversity,” Bivins said. “We believe that the city has the authority and power to add more wards to bring back something that we feel was taken from us whether directly or indirectly.”

Before the Council voted on the ordinance, Ward 1 representative and City Council President Sophie Martin spoke on Bivins concerns and expressed her appreciation for his presence and for those that were in attendance.

“Just the fact that you all would take the time, meet with us, share your concerns because that drove us to really dig back and go back and look at the difference between our city then and now and how different the wards look and their makeup,” Martin said. “I’ve made it known, I’m not seeking reelection, so, I will be more than happy to continue partnering with you all and if you get a good candidate I will back them, work for them and help them run while they campaign.”

After closing the public hearing and handling other items of business, all present members of the Alabaster City Council unanimously approved the ordinance to redistrict the wards as proposed.

In other news, the Alabaster City Council approved the following items on the agenda:

  • The abatement of weeds at 1226 Thompson Road in Alabaster
  • The declaration of items as surplus from various departments within the city
  • A request for a restaurant retail liquor license for Sabor Costeno, LLC
  • An agreement with InSite Engineering, LLC for field verification and surveying of four pump station sites and pump station design, including force mains and routes in the amount of $292,200
  • A resolution authorizing the mayor to sign an agreement with EMS Management and Consultants for the purpose of EMS transport billing services
  • The awarding of a bid for the 2024 youth cheer uniforms to Varsity Sports in the amount of $186.70 per unit
  • The granting of an easement to Alabama Power to re-route power lines in front of/temporarily across city property for The Shoppes at District 31
  • The authorization for the mayor to execute a contract with The Public Park and Recreation Board of Jefferson County for the purchase of plus or minus .73 acres of property in the amount of $41,000 for the expansion of Buck Creek Trail
  • Set a public hearing for Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m. to abate weeds at 544 First Street N.