|Redistricting could affect Wilson County|
|Friday, November 16, 2012|
By SABRINA GARRETT
Proposed statewide judicial redistricting plans could have a heavy impact on Wilson County.
Judge John Wooten, who currently serves five counties, including Wilson, said that he does not know where the proposed plan is at the state legislature, but that the idea has been “floated around” for the past five years. “I found out at a judicial conference in October,” he said, adding that he saw the maps that would increase his area to eight counties. “The map that I saw came out of the Lieutenant Governor’s office.”
Wooten said the proposal would reduce the number of Tennessee’s judicial districts from 31 to 29 – leaving Rutherford, Montgomery, Washington, Williamson and Wilson Counties as their own districts. “You would now have 12 counties that would be stand-alone districts,” Wooten said. “The 15th district, which I now serve, would stretch from Macon all the way down to Coffee County – that is Macon, Jackson, Smith, Trousdale, DeKalb, Cannon and Warren.”
If the proposed plan comes to fruition, Judge C.K. Smith would bear the soul responsibility of serving Wilson County, taking him out of Trousdale, Smith, Macon and Jackson. “I am a Wilson Countian and I feel good about Wilson County. It will leave me in Wilson County by myself,” he explained. “I love my rural counties and it suits me to keep them all, but whatever they do I will live with it.”
Wooten hopes the redraw will leave his counties the same. “I enjoy traveling to all five counties that I serve. I think that there are a lot of other people who think along those lines,” he said.
One of them is Judge Clara Byrd who said she believes the current proposal would do a “disservice to our district.”
“We currently have five counties and under that proposal we would lose one of our judges. It would probably be Judge Wooten,” she said, adding that service and cost could be an issue. “Everybody works well together. I’m afraid that the small counties like Trousdale and Jackson would not get the service they need.”
“Everybody works well together. I enjoy serving all five of my counties and I would hate to lose four of them. I just think it is going to be a tremendous economic burden when our state doesn’t have the money for it. They would have to hire new public defenders, new district attorneys – there would be a new judgeship. Nobody has really given us all of the information about it.”