Rep. John Rogers (D-Jefferson County) has vowed to ride through the streets like Paul Revere until the “disenfranchised citizens of Jefferson County are properly represented.”
The Committee to Save Jefferson County — which included Rogers and Rep. Mary Moore (D-Jefferson County) — held a press conference Monday to denounce as a “dire concern” what they have categorized as a voting violation by members of the Jefferson County legislative delegation who do not live in Jefferson County.
“The Jefferson County legislative delegation is controlled by Republicans who gerrymandered districts so they would retain control,” Moore said during the press conference. “The district lines were redrawn to include persons in the delegation who do not live in Jefferson County, as well as others who do, but also represent residents in other counties.”
The members of the Committee to Save Jefferson County have taken issue with the fact that three members of the Jefferson County GOP delegation do not live in the county. However, this could not be independently verified before going to press.
Historically the delegation has been split between nine Democrats and nine Republicans. As the legislative session began Tuesday, the GOP controls the Jefferson County delegation 10-8.
Moore said that some of these members represent a large portion of other counties, yet are still able to make crucial decisions with regard to Jefferson County legislation. “And then, if people in Jefferson County don’t like that they are doing, there isn’t much that can be done, because only a tiny portion of their district falls in Jefferson County, so no one here can vote them out,” Moore said.
According to Moore, Rep. Arnold Mooney, who represents Alabama House District 43, only has 224 residents in his district who live in Jefferson County. Another 44,985 of his constituents, however, reside in Shelby County, along with Mooney himself.
Moore and Rogers contend that everyone who lives in Jefferson County should be outraged by what they call the “ultimate insult to the democratic process.”
“It’s clear,” Moore continued, “that their interests are secondary to those aforementioned legislators.”
Also coming under fire from Moore and Rogers were Rep. Tim Wadsworth (R-AL 14th District) and Rep. Kyle South (R-AL 16th District). Both Wadsworth and South represent portions of Jefferson County but reside in other counties.
“Wadsworth represents 5,338 in Jefferson County and 39,735 in Walker and Winston [Counties]. Also, he lives in Winston,” Moore said. “Kyle South represents 12,563 in Jefferson County and 33,517 in Lamar, Fayette and Tuscaloosa Counties while living in Fayette County.”
Pointing out that the year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Rogers said that this “egregious act” of disenfranchisement of black voters will not stand and that he would be in “war mode” for the beginning of the 2015 legislative session.
South said that he was disappointed to hear Rogers’ comments. “It’s unfortunate the way Rep. Rogers feels about the situation,” South said. “I represent about 12,000 people in Jefferson County and I am going to continue to do that. And I don’t think I can do that effectively without being a member of the delegation.”
South said that he has no plans on stepping away from his position on the Jefferson County delegation. Efforts to reach Wadsworth and Mooney for comment were unsuccessful.
Rogers said he plans on handing over the statistics to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and Speaker of the Alabama Legislature Mike Hubbard.
After that, Rogers said, he plans to file a lawsuit in Jefferson County against the parties he has deemed responsible for this disenfranchisement of voters, although he did not name anyone specifically.
“They come to Jefferson County, vote ‘no’ for something, then get out of town,” Rogers said. “I can’t properly represent my constituents because people who don’t live here are making all the decisions.”