When redrawing district lines for the two House districts situated in Wilson County, the Republican-controlled committee put former State Rep. Stratton Bone and former State Sen. Bob Rochelle, both Democrats, in the 57th House District, a district comprised largely by Mt. Juliet and West Wilson County residents.
The new boundaries for the 57th, a seat held by former Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam, extend the district with a narrow swath north and east around Lebanon. Now residents living in the Hunters Point area near the Trousdale County line and further east toward the Smith County line will be included in what has traditionally been a West Wilson district.
The new redistricting plan shows communities east and north of Lebanon that have always been tied to a House district that includes Lebanon are now in the West Wilson County district. These communities include all or portions of Bellwood, Taylorsville, Centerville and Carroll Oakland.
As the new 57th District moves south from the Smith County line, the last two pieces of property to be included in the new district are the residences of Stratton and his brother Gordon Bone on Carthage Highway.
The new 57th District also eliminates Rochelle, who lives on Lock Five Road near the Cumberland River in the Hunters Point area north of Lebanon.
I am concerned that entire communities with citizens with long term connections to Lebanon are being moved to the Mt. Juliet district just for Pody to avoid having an opponent, Rochelle said.
I think it is very self-serving on Pody's part. He is acting like just another hack politician taking care of himself first, Rochelle added.
Pody told The Wilson Post this past week that he had not seen the new district lines until last Wednesday and had been asked for feedback briefly but noted his suggestions did not make it into the final map.
When asked if he was aware that both Bone and Rochelle had been removed from the 46th District, Pody said he was not, but pointed out, I actually won the area thats been taken away from me, referring to the northeast portion of Wilson County.
Im going to be missing a lot of people that I had been representing, Pody said.
Bone was first elected to the legislature representing House District 46 in 1996 and he served consecutive two-year terms until he was defeated by Pody in 2010.
Ironically, Rochelle got his start in politics by successfully challenging a 1980 Senate redistricting plan that attempted to divide Wilson County so that it would be part of three Senate districts. That plan, if upheld, would have favored an incumbent senator from Sumner County, the late Sen. T. Tommy Cutrer.
However, Rochelle won his challenge of the redistricting plan before the Supreme Court and went on to defeat Cutrer and served for 20 consecutive years in the State Senate.