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GOP maps out changesGOP maps out changes

As it currently stands, a proposed change to state House and Senate legislative district lines by Tennessee Republicans would shuffle the legislators who represent Unicoi County, namely Sen. Steve Southerland, of the First Senate District, and Rep. David Hawk, of the Fifth House District, Elections Administrator Sarah Bailey said Monday.
According to the state’s website, proposed redistricting legislation in the Tennessee House of Representatives would move Unicoi County from Hawk’s Fifth House District into District 4, currently represented by Kent Williams.
Previously, Williams represented only Carter County, which constituted its own congressional district. The proposed change would place only the northern half of Carter County in the same district as Unicoi County, with Carter’s southern half moved to District 3.
In the Senate, proposed legislation would move Unicoi County out of the First Senatorial District, currently represented by Southerland, and into District 3, which is represented by Sen. Rusty Crowe.
The change in senatorial boundaries lumps Unicoi County in with Washington and Carter counties, which previously were the only two counties that made up District 3. Currently, District 1, of which Unicoi County is still a part, also consists of Greene, Cocke and Hamblen counties.
Bailey said redistricting is also taking place at the federal level this year in order to evenly distribute populations following the 2010 Census, but she said U.S. congressional boundary changes would be “slight to minimal.”
“(Incumbent) Congressman Phil Roe would still be eligible to run and serve our county in his next term,” Bailey said, adding that even redistricting at the state level does not necessarily “oust” current senators and representatives from serving the same citizens.
“David Hawk and Steve Southerland will continue to serve us until the expiration of their terms,” Bailey said.
Hawk’s term expires this year, with voters heading to the polls in August and again in November to either re-elect Williams, should he decide to run for re-election, or select a new representative for District 4. Hawk may still seek re-election in his own district.
According to Bailey, Southerland, who was re-elected in 2010, will not face the expiration of his current term until 2014.
“So, as far as I know, he (Southerland) will be allowed to serve out the rest of his term under the current district setup, unless the state were to implement some sort of (provision) to move him before that time.”
The Tennessee General Assembly is set to convene next week to work toward finalizing new district maps, Bailey indicated Monday. She said Tennessee Democrats have challenged some elements of the redistricting legislation.
“I think the Democratic leadership have already suggested some changes,” she concluded. “Whether any of those changes will be made or not, nobody knows.”