BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission approved a redistricting plan Tuesday that takes into consideration where most of the announced commission candidates live.
The original map, approved in a workshop by the County Commission and School Board, used 2010 census data to make some minor adjustments that evened out the population in the five districts.
But the map drew fire from Republican Jason Sager, who had announced his plan to run for the District 3 commission seat the day before the workshop. Sager told commissioners that he should have been considered, as other prequalified candidates had been. The original map would have moved Sager's residence from District 3 to District 5.
The commission agreed to alter the map to put Sager's home back into District 3, but some residents criticized that change as gerrymandering.
Much of the criticism was leveled by the local chapter of the NAACP, which had drawn up its own redistricting proposal.
Paul Douglas, NAACP president and an announced candidate for the District 5 commission seat, argued Tuesday that the map drawn by his organization was better because it was not based on where candidates live.
"Candidates have no standing in this process,'' Douglas said.
Also, the NAACP plan had the closest population numbers from district to district, he said.
Sager urged the commission to approve the map that it had altered and that kept him in District 3, saying it was "fair and equal'' in numbers. The NAACP plan excluded some candidates from their previous districts, Sager said.
Commissioner Dave Russell said either map would work.
"They both achieve a high degree of equity and parity in numbers,'' Russell said.
Commissioner Jeff Stabins suggested that a coin toss could settle the question, but Commissioner Wayne Dukes said it was a serious matter that should not be left to chance. He made the motion to go with the county's map.
Druzbick offered a second to the motion.
"Let's get this over with," he said.
The motion passed unanimously.
The School Board was set to take up the approved map during its meeting Tuesday night.
While the district lines matter to candidates, who must live in the districts where they are running, they don't have much meaning for the public because voters cast ballots for candidates in all districts.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.