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Metro councilmembers ponder future after new law slashing their size

Posted at 8:53 PM, Mar 16, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Thursday was the first chance for Metro councilmembers to see what may be ahead for them, now that state lawmakers say they need to cut the number of councilmembers by half.

Metro planning officials say they are in the middle of trying to redraw district lines to reflect a 20-council — a plan that usually takes months to develop, which now must be carried out in only a handful of days.

Councilmembers worry that kind of speed may open up the city to lawsuits for violating the federal Voting Rights Act, and limit how much input you will get to have on what the new lines look like.

That's all while projections from the planning department confirm what some councilmembers said were their fears that the number of minorities on the council would drop.

"Yes it really does, it shows the percentage of people could go down or up, but the number will go down," said councilwoman Zulfat Suara. "So we're looking at 10 in the African American minority community now, to possibly four, so that's a big reduction."

And Sandra Sepulveda, the only Latina councilmember, reacted to the news that under the redistricting, it's possible no Hispanic councilmembers may be elected, even with thousands living in Nashville.

"It's hard, especially since there's only one at the moment, one person from that community," Sepulveda said.

Councilmembers will hear more impact from the bill at a special meeting next week.