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The problem with the redrawing of magisterial districts in Shelby County would seem to be one of simple geometry that anyone can appreciate:
No matter how you slice it, you can’t create seven truly equal pieces of a pie.
Yet, that’s the problem facing fiscal court as it goes through the suggestion/review process required every 10 years to ensure that each magistrate represents a nearly equal number of residents.
The 2010 census unsurprisingly told us that the Simpsonville area in western Shelby County– which had seen the development and population of three large subdivisions – had surged, and proportionally eastern Shelby County had lost political weight.
Magistrates appointed a committee to recommend a method for shifting their district lines westward, and they held a workshop on Tuesday to review those recommendations.
Already some of them – notably veteran District Six representative Tony Carriss – have expressed concern about how their constituencies might be affected by the new lines.
We understand that, because residents forge personal relationships with those in local government, tend to embrace their character and understanding of issues and want to maintain those relationships on all important matters.
(Wouldn’t it be great if that could occur on the federal level as well, and maybe that familiarity could prevent some of our other governmental problems?)
But with Shelbyville sitting in the middle of the pie, we don’t really grasp a way to shift the balance of population without some cracking crust all around.
Given the mathematical fact that magistrates have roughly 8,600 more residents to divide than they did in 2000, that Shelbyville and Simpsonville comprise about 39 percent of that total pie, then you can see how the perimeter districts would be required to grow in less-populated real estate simply to balance the equation.
If each of the seven districts would include about 6,000 residents, then all the smaller districts surrounding Shelbyville would have to chew closer to the core and inch a bit to the west to gather the numbers that are required.
Magistrates Eddie Kingsolver and Bill Hedges in eastern Shelby simply will have to bite off parts of Shelbyville to have a balanced diet of constituents.
There’s simply no other way to do it. You can only move numbers where there are numbers to move. Mathematics are the rule.
And we don’t envy those trying to slice that pie and maintain some sort of visible divider – such as a thoroughfare, a creek or a railroad – because unlike our ancestors, those amenities don’t always draw us to settle in a conveniently definable place.
Yes, this required pie-cutting is always distasteful, always a bit imbalanced and, even worse, sometimes fractious.
That said, we would encourage one guiding principle to those whose hands hold this knife: Let’s make sure the blade has not been sharpened on a distasteful whetstone of politics.
That certainly would render the final product totally indigestible.