Judge won't halt Montgomery elections

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A federal judge has denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted the upcoming municipal elections for the city of Montgomery.

Joe L. Reed and the Alabama Democratic Conference requested the restraining order as they filed a lawsuit against the city over the issue of reapportionment and district lines.

No reason for the judge's denial was given.

The city of Montgomery must now respond to the lawsuit, which will go forward, before Tuesday, July 19 at noon. The ADC will then have to respond to the city's response by Friday, July 22 at noon. The judge will look at both responses and make a decision on where to go from there.

"This is a very serious matter," Reed said, "but it is also not complicated. It is serious because the districts have to be reapportioned."

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange's office had no comment on the latest development in the lawsuit but says he stands behind his previous statements.

Strange said Tuesday after the lawsuit was filed that the city has a strict time-frame it must follow when redrawing district lines, and that the city has not broken the law. The municipal statute says that if a new district plan is created it must be in place six months prior to an election.

Strange contends that since the city only received its census data from the government in March, it had no chance to put a new plan in place by the August elections. The city has a total of 18 months to come up with a plan and implement it.

Reed, who Tuesday set off a firestorm with his remarks, said the city of Montgomery needed a black, Democratic mayor. "Republicans are mean folks," he said.

Reed believes the failure to redistrict in time for the elections is racial in nature because of "heavy population imbalances, and unfair representation, within council districts."

Strange says the new map will be in place in the 18-month timeframe.

"The mayor and council want the election under the old districts," Reed said. "We are not going to let them stay under that law for four more years. Incumbents are worried the new lines could mean they would face more opponents."

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