Despite the approval of new constituency lines last month, the Pitt County Commissioners Council has asked staff to change the map after a voter rights group complained about the number of constituencies divided .
Planning and Development Director James Rhodes said if staff followed the recommendations suggested by Democracy North Carolina, a sitting commissioner would be removed from their district and one of the county’s two minority-majority districts would lose that. status.
Rhodes did not identify the commissioner or the district.
Despite Rhodes’ concern, the commissioners said they wanted him and his staff to look for ways to reduce the number of divided constituencies while keeping the current commissioners in their districts, using the previously approved map.
The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the new proposal at their meeting on November 15. They plan to hold a special meeting called on November 16 to vote on the new card if it is not approved on November 15.
The legislature has set November 17 as the preferred deadline for submitting new redistribution cards to the Election Council. However, a final deadline of December 17 is also available.
Reginald Barrett, speaking on behalf of Democracy North Carolina, said the organization had been approached by concerned residents with divided constituencies and the division of Winterville into three different commissioner districts.
Constituencies are administrative units that designate different places to vote. When ridings are divided, people living in the unit vote in the same place but are grouped together in different wards.
Rhodes said 19 of Pitt County’s 40 districts are split into Pitt County Commissioners Council voting districts, the same number as on the 2011 district map.
Winterville is divided between Commissioners Districts 4, 5 and 6 in the plan approved in September.
“If we were to move and put the 10 or 11,000 people who reside within the city limits of Winterville in one district, there would be a ripple effect in all the other districts,” Rhodes said.
“It’s not as simple as making it happen without having ramifications in some of the other districts.”
Rhodes said Democracy North Carolina’s driving force is to limit divided constituencies, an approach he called “backwards.”
“We should first consider our constitutional requirements imposed by the federal government. These boundary lines are purely local administrative boundaries. In my opinion, that’s not the right way to look at it, ”said Rhode.
The commissioners were able to reconsider the redistribution plan because when it was adopted in September, the adoption resolution was not prepared.
Concurrent motions have been proposed. The motion to approve the plan adopted in September and the authorization resolution failed 4-5. Commissioners Tom Coulson, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beth Ward and Lauren White voted yes, and Commissioners Alex Albright, Ann Floyd Huggins, Melvin McLawhorn, Christopher Nunnally and Mary Perkins-Williams voted no.
Motion to order Rhodes and his staff to rework the maps to reduce the number of divided ridings, address concerns for the Winterville District and concerns of the County Commissioners was approved 6-3, with Ward joining Albright, Huggins, McLawhorn, Nunnally and Perkins-Williams and Coulson, Fitzpatrick and White vote no.
The following points were unanimously approved at Monday’s meeting:
- An incentive that will not exceed $ 25,000 for a company that plans to invest $ 38.4 million and create at least 80 jobs. The incentive is the equivalent of a 5 percent required match for a state building reuse grant.
- Emergency Management Director Randy Gentry’s request that $ 10,244 in emergency funds be used to purchase and replace an amplifier system atop a tower that is part of the county’s emergency radio system .
A proposed list of meeting dates to get public input on how the county should spend $ 35 million to fund the US bailout.
- Go ahead with advertising and hiring a coordinator to oversee the administration of the county’s US bailout funding.
Commissioners also voted 6 to 3 to use $ 1,500 in emergency funding to update signage in county buildings alerting people who have authorized concealed weapons will not be allowed. Coulson, Fitzpatrick and White voted against the request.