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Ernest Montgomery became the only black member of the five-person Calera City Council in 2004, winning in a district that was almost 71 percent black. The city redrew its district lines in 2006 after new subdivisions and retail developments sprang up in the area Montgomery represented, and the change left Montgomery’s District 2 with a population that was only 23 percent black.
Running against a white opponent in the now mostly white district, Montgomery narrowly lost a re-election bid in 2008. The Justice Department invalidated the election result because the city had failed to obtain advance approval of the new districts.
A lifelong resident of Calera and a church deacon, the 56-year-old Montgomery said he doesn’t know whether discrimination was involved in the redistricting decision six years ago. But, he said, discrimination still exists and the law is still needed.
"I think things have gotten a lot more leveled out, but we’re not to the point we need," he said.
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