The Sebastian County Election Commission unanimously agreed Wednesday (Nov. 17) on a map outlining the new zones for the Sebastian County Quorum Court though where that map was created is still unknown.
The county has to be redistricted to make certain each quorum court district has a similar population determined by data from the 2020 census by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Three possible maps were presented at a meeting of the election commission Wednesday morning. One map was presented by Election Commission Chairman David Damron, and one map was presented by Election Commissioner Lee Webb, who worked with Western Arkansas Planning and Development District to create the map. The election commission office personnel, led by Sebastian County Election Coordinator Meghan Hassler, produced the third map without input from any of the commissioners, Webb said.
Election Commissioner Cara Gean made the motion to adopt the map presented by Damron, who had stated at a meeting Nov. 9 that she would not vote for any map presented by Webb.
Damron’s map was discussed at the Sebastian County Election Commission meeting Nov. 9. At the time, no one admitted to who drew the map, and Damron refused to clarify who drew the proposed map. Damron said during the meeting he had worked on a map with new zones for the county.
Webb said state law requires the election commission to draw the map. He told Damron he had not worked on a map at that time because the commission had agreed Oct. 4 to hold a meeting to work on a map with new district or zone lines. When questioned by Webb on Nov. 9, Damron would not say at the meeting who drew the map. Damron also avoided questions from the media about creation of the map and later did not respond to repeated requests to talk about the redistricting process.
Webb said he was told the map provided by Damron was made in the county clerk’s office. Nesa Bishop, deputy county clerk, said last week the office would not comment on whether Damron’s map was created in the county clerk’s office.
Before voting Wednesday on whether to use Damron’s map, Webb asked if a small section south of Highway 10 could be added to District 3, represented by Justice of the Peace Shawn Looper.
“Shawn asked if it could be done because his brother lives in that area, and he just wants to be able to represent his brother,” Webb said.
After some adjusting of the lines to add that specific area and take away another area with about equal number populations, all while making certain not to split any census blocks, the three commissioners agreed to the amended version of Damron’s map draft.
“It was the process I was upset with,” Webb said of the approved map of districts.
Damron once again would not comment on anything to do with the maps when asked about them.
“I have no comments for you,” Damron said when asked again about who drew the maps. “I am not commenting to you.”
Neither Sebastian County Clerk Sharon Brooks nor Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue were present at the meeting. Shue has not returned several messages. Talk Business & Politics sought his input on the the legality of the process.