Moore to New Changes Under Redistricting
BY FLORENCE GILKESON
Moore County will have a new congressman and state senator next year under redistricting maps approved this week by the N.C. General Assembly.
The county's state House district will also change slightly.
The new maps still must pass muster by the U.S. Justice Department and withstand possible court challenges before taking effect.
For Congress, Moore County moves into the 2nd Congressional District, now served by Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a tea party favorite. The county is losing affiliation with the 6th District represented by Republican Howard Coble.
The county moves from state Senate District 22 to the 29th District, encompassing all of Moore County and a large section of Randolph County. Incumbent Sen. Harris Blake, a Pinehurst Republican, announced this week that he will not seek re-election, leaving the way clear for fellow Republican Jerry Tillman to run for the seat unopposed by another incumbent.
State Rep. Jamie Boles' District 52 remains intact, except for a north-central swath of the county, including Carthage, High Falls and Glendon. Those precincts move into District 78, now served by Rep. Harold Brubaker. Both are Republicans.
"I think they're good districts," Boles said Thursday. "These are fair and legal maps, and I think they will be upheld by the Department of Justice and our state courts."
Boles was a late appointee to the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee, which began meeting early in the year to tackle the reapportionment task required by the 2010 decennial population census.
About 40 North Carolina counties fall within the purview of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), which requires congressional and legislative districts to reflect minority populations. Because of that, the state's new districts must receive U.S. Department of Justice approval before taking effect.
Although several neighboring counties are affected by the VRA, Moore is not one of them.
Nevertheless, Democratic Party leaders and other critics of the new maps have threatened to challenge the new districts in court.
They argue that some districts have been gerrymandered to dilute Democratic Party strength by unfairly packing some districts with minority voters, creating oddly shaped district lines.
Boles said the district boundaries are sound and are based strictly on demographics gleaned from the latest census figures.
"When we talk about one person-one vote, we're talking about 6-year-olds," Boles said. "We had to go by total population, not by registered voters."
Boles said the legislature was required to design districts with populations as close as possible to an ideal target figure. Those populations include everyone from infants to centenarians, not just everyone old enough to vote.
The new 2nd Congressional District is as close to ideal as they come. According to the legislature's website, the ideal population would be 733,499, and the district has exactly that many people.
Deviations exist in both legislative districts that include Moore County.
The new Senate District 29 has 192,959 residents 2,249 above ideal. The new House District 52 is about 2,500 short of the ideal 79,462 population.
Boles said the districts adopted by both legislative chambers Wednesday are almost identical to the maps previously reported.
His house district was changed slightly to preserve voter tabulation districts, which more or less follow precinct lines in most counties.
"We kind of squared things in Montgomery and Moore counties and did some tweaking there," Boles said. "The senate maps were not touched."
On the map, his new district follows N.C. 705 to N.C. 24-27, retaining Robbins but lopping off the area around the House in the Horsehoe and all of Carthage Precinct. District 52 picks up at Hillcrest south of Carthage and keeps the rest of Moore County. Cameron Precinct, now in District 54, is back in District 52.
District 54 presently also includes part of Carthage Precinct. In addition, it includes all of Chatham County and part of Orange County. Under the redistricting plan, the incumbent Rep. Joe Hackney, a Chapel Hill Democrat, is double-bunked with incumbent Democrat Verla Insko, which means that they would face each other in a primary if both run for re-election next year. Hackney is a former house speaker.
Reflecting on his few weeks on the redistricting committee, Boles said he had learned a lot about the process and was impressed with the work accomplished by the committee earlier in the session.
"I admire the committee for its commitment to making sure the deviation (in population) was adhered to and making sure the maps were fair and legal," he said. "It surely was an interesting experience."
In addition to population growth in Moore County, the new census figures reflect a continuing growth trend toward metropolitan areas, especially the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte-Mecklenburg hubs.
The 2010 census placed Moore County's population at more than 88,000, up from 74,769 in 2000 and 59,013 in 1990.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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