A New District for Us?
Moore May Shift from 6th to 2nd
The latest redistricting maps, if adopted by the state legislature, would shift Moore County from the 6th Congressional District into the 2nd District.
The newest maps were discussed late in the week by the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Commit-tee, which has a new member, state Rep. Jamie Boles, of Moore County.
“Nothing’s in stone,” Boles said Friday morning, shortly before he left to attend yet another series of special weekend legislative meetings in Raleigh.
Boles said the committee is still studying the maps and making changes in keeping with the results of public hearings held throughout the state last Monday and earlier in the summer.
Adoption of proposed district boundaries according to these maps would not change Moore County’s Republican Party representation in Congress or either legislative chamber, provided incumbents are re-elected.
The 2nd District is represented by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, the Republican who defeated Democrat Bob Etheridge last year. In recent years, the county’s congressman has been Republican Howard Coble.
Boles said the congressional district changes are largely precipitated by restrictions imposed by the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires minority representation in Congress commensurate with minority population. Moore is not among those counties affected by the Voting Rights Act (VRA), but all districts are affected because of the heavy minority concentrations in the eastern part of the state and in metropolitan areas.
“In incorporating the Voting Rights Act into the new districts, it redid everything,” Boles said.
Boles said the shift of Moore County from the 6th to the 2nd District is part of the fallout from the VRA effect on minority concentrations in other counties. He noted that a close examination of the proposed maps shows movement of historic eastern districts to the center of the state and vice versa from the west, where the population includes fewer minorities.
Under the latest maps, Boles would remain in House District 52, which would be reduced by a few precincts including such areas as High Falls, Glendon and Carthage. Those precincts would go into a district presently represented by Republican Harold Brubaker, of Asheoro, whose tenure dates to 1977.
The district was downsized because of population growth as reflected in the 2010 Census. The proposed change returns Cameron Precinct to District 52, which then generally follows N.C. 705 to N.C. 24-27 to Carthage, picking up at Hillcrest but eliminating Carthage Precinct altogether from the district.
If the change is adopted, House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, a Chapel Hill Democrat, would no longer represent a district with precincts in Moore County. Hackney’s district has been changed to a double-bunk with another Democratic representative from Orange County, Verla Insko.
The change for state Sen. Harris Blake would be more dramatic, transferring him from District 22 into District 29, encompassing Moore County and a large hunk of Randolph County. This change would double-bunk two Republicans, Blake and Jerry Tillman, the District 29 incumbent. The 22nd District at present covers Moore and Harnett counties. Under that plan, Harnett would be linked with Lee County to become a new District 12.
Blake’s districting situation has not changed significantly since the maps were introduced earlier in the summer.
Boles is so new to the redistricting committee that he has had little say in development of the latest maps. His appointment was made a week ago when one committee member, Rep. Ric Killian, of Mecklenburg, was deployed into active duty. Killian, a Republican, is a U.S. Military Academy graduate and now serves in the Army Reserves.
“I’ve really learned a lot in the last few days at these meetings and the hearings,” Boles said.
Of one thing he is certain: the maps are far from final.
“We’re still tweaking them,” he said Friday.
Boles attended the joint committee meeting Thursday and was back in Raleigh Friday for another meeting. Committee meetings, both by the joint committee and the House panel, continued into the weekend, along with some skeletal meetings of both the House and Senate in rare Saturday and Sunday sessions.
The reason for the weekend sessions was to give the joint committee the opportunity to read into the record the findings on redistricting, preparatory to the special session scheduled to open Monday, when the General Assembly is scheduled to vote on a reapportionment plan.
Regardless of which maps are adopted, critics are predicting litigation will follow because of dissatisfaction over what appears to be politically induced gerrymandering to protect congressional seats held by Republican incumbents and to weaken districts served by Democrats while manipulating minority population requirements to back up that aim.
Republicans control both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time in more than 100 years and are expected to exert that influence in developing district boundaries.
Redistricting of congressional and legislative districts is required after each decennial population census. It is a constitutional mandate.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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