SARASOTA-  Sarasota County Commission votes to move forward with redistricting before the 2020 election, but critics called the decision wasteful ahead of an upcoming Census.

Sarasota County Commissioned ordered an updated population study after voters approved single member districts in November. According to the County’s legal team, if the numbers are close enough to the next census count redistricting in 2021 will be unnecessary.

“If it concludes that after careful review of the data that boundary lines do not have to be redrawn,” Attorney Rick Elbrecht said. “Then the county commission is not required to redraw the boundaries if they are already as close as possible.”

The population study conducted by a Tallahassee consultant found a population difference of just over 10% between the highest and lowest populated districts. Critics at the meeting say this doesn’t warrant redistricting.

“I think what we heard was an attempt to justify using other data then the census to redraw district lines, I don’t think that’s right.”

“Their research did not justify redistricting early, if you heard the message then why did you then hire an outside expert at taxpayer expense to redo staff research.”

“The difference in population is not an aberration for one election, is it worth the ill will of the community.”

But some North Port Residents say redistricting is only fair.

“Each voter in District 1 has more representative weight then each voter in district 5, and you have the opportunity and the duty to correct it now.”

Commissioners voted to move forward with redistricting.

“To me it’s just more common sense,” Detert said. “Simpler to do it now, for me the biggest reason to do it now if between now and 2021 we’re going to have an election.”

“Our system totally changed by the voters,” Hines said. “Fine, these districts need to be equalized, if not the higher member districts are not getting equal representation.”

Commissioner Christian Ziegler was the only one to vote against redistricting now.

“I am not sold on this,” Ziegler said. “My personal view is just to wait on the census.”

Commissioners directed staff to plan 5 public information sessions to discuss the redrawing of the maps, with maps first coming before the commission at a meeting in November. New maps need to be approved by the end of 2019.