One Man - One Vote ... One Vote - One Man?

A group of folks are trying to get this accomplished. You can find them at" and discuss this at Tahamaki's page

Murfreesboro City Council

Please refresh as I try to update from time to time.

"There are two subjects, indeed, which I shall claim a right to further as long as I breathe: the public education, and the sub-division of counties into wards. I consider the continuance of republican government as absolutely hanging on these two hooks." Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell, 1814. ME 14:84

I begin a Murfreesboro City Council page by asking the question - why is our city council and city school board all at-large seats?

Shouldn't they be elected by districts?

Update: Dateline November 12, 2000: Murfreesboro considering council districts By EMILY HEFFTER, Tennessean Staff Writer.

I ask a rather simple question

How can the Murfreesboro City Council and School Board all be elected on an at-large basis in a city our size? I think such laws as the 1965 Federal Voter Rights Act would preclude that. Here is what my research has discovered to date. And time is of the essence, as our next city election is the 3rd Tuesday in April, 2000 - six months away - an important period of time as you will read in a moment...

(Private Acts 1993, ch. 104, & 6) (In other words - the following part of the City Charter was changed/put in place in 1993.)

Murfreesboro City Charter

Article IV, Section 14 Council Districts

(a) The city council shall be composed of not more than eleven (11) members, some of whom may be representatives from districts in the city as drawn by the city council. Districts shall be re-apportioned at least every ten (10) years based upon the most recent federal census. No more that one (1) representative shall be elected from a district, except for the mayor and council members elected at-large, if any. The mayor shall be considered a member of the city council, and may or may not have voting rights based upon the implementing ordinance provided in subsection 14(d).

(b) A council member must have been a resident of the city for a minimum of one (1) year and a resident of the district for a minimum of four (4) months prior to the election.

(c) The terms of the city council shall be four (4) years. The terms of the council members shall be staggered so that one-half (1/2) or one-half (1/2) plus the mayor are elected every two (2) years. The term of the mayor is four (4) years.

(d) The terms and provisions of this section shall not take effect until the city council by a two-third (2/3) majority vote adopts an ordinance implementing this section. Such adoption shall occur more than six (6) months prior to a city election.

(e) (1) Subject to the adoption and terms of the ordinance as set out in subsection (d), the 1994 city election may be by districts; or, by districts and at-large.

(2) The registered voters of at least one half (1/2) of the districts designated by the city council shall be entitled to elect one (1) council member for such voters' district in 1994. The registered voters of the remaining districts shall be entitled to elect one (1) council member for such voter's district in 1996, if the ordinance provides for one (1) or more council member(s) at-large; and any remaining at-large council seats, if any, shall be filled in 1994. If an incumbent whose term does not expire resides in a district designated for election in 1994, the registered voters of the district will elect a council members, and the council member whose term does not expire shall continure to serve at-large until such member's term expires.

(f) The original establishment of districts and reappointment must be finalized at least six (6) months before a city election.

(g) The city council must use the latest decennial federal census data whenever a reappointment is made.

(h) Districts shall be reasonably compact and contiguous and shall not overlap. The districts shall have substantially equal populations.

(i) In the establishment of boundaries for districts, no districts shall be split. When the territory is annexed into the city, it shall be a part of the district to which it is contiguous. If it is contiguous as two (2) or more districts, the city council shall designate the district or districts by ordinance.

(j) The written description and maps of district boundaries shall be filed and recorded in the office of the city recorder and in the office of the Rutherford County Election Commission.

(j) Upon application of any citizen of the city, the Chancery Court of Rutherford County shall have original jurisdiction to review the city council's apportionment or reapportionment, and shall have jurisdiction to make such orders and decrees amending the apportionment or reapportionment to comply with the Charter or, if the city council fails to make apportionment or reapportionment, shall make a decree ordering an apportionment or reapportionment.

In a different book I found

Tennessee State Code, Annotated,

6-3-102. Election of board by municipalities incorporated under chapters 1 and 2 of this title, on or prior to June 30, 1991 - (a) A municipality incorporated under chapters 1 and 2 of this title, on or before June 30, 1991, may, by ordinance, establish wards, increase or decrease the number of wards, increase or decrease the number of alderman to no fewer than (2) and no more than eight (8) in accordance with & 6-3-101.

part of 6-3-101(b) says: The board of any municipality having between five (5) and eight (8) wards shall consist of a mayor elected at large and one (1) alderman elected from each ward.

Caveat - I am no lawyer or expert on city government so I do not know for sure if the above mentioned state law applies to Murfreesboro but my guess would be that it does.

Our city should have elected representation by districts

What can I, the reader and Murfreesboro City resident do?

  1. Call the members of the City Council and tell them you want it placed on the City Council's agenda for the purpose of having it voted in.
  2. Call City Manager Roger Haley at Murfreesboro City Hall and asked that it be placed on the agenda.
  3. Ask your friends and neighbors to do numbers 1 and 2 above as well.

The DNJ on March 28, 1999 covered my 'speech': Elections by district vote needs more study: mayor By Chris Shofner, Staff writer. Yes, I guess it does