County Redraws Residency Districts
When the filing period opens in February, Moore County will have different residency district boundaries from which to draw candidates for county commissioner and school board.
At a Tuesday meeting, the Moore County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt new districts, in keeping with population changes determined by the 2010 census.
Chairman Larry Caddell made the motion to adopt the new districts.
The commissioners approved the proposal with a minimum of discussion, but their action drew applause from several members of the League of Women Voters, who have vigorously pushed for redistricting.
“We are like the Energizer Bunny,” said Jo Nicholas to explain the League’s persistence on the subject.
Nicholas was one of two speakers urging the board to adopt the new district boundaries. She wears two hats as president of the North Carolina League of Women Voters and the Moore County league.
O’Linda Gillis, also a league member, spoke in her capacity as president of the Moore County chapter of the NAACP. She added that the NAACP supports the League’s position on redistricting.
Both Nicholas and Gillis spoke during the public-comment period at the beginning of the meeting.
Of six proposed redistricting maps, the board’s choice was option six, which has the twin advantages of providing ideal populations for each district and retaining incumbent members in their districts for both boards.
Option six had also been recommended by the league.
The 2010 census placed the county’s population at 88,247, a sizable increase since 2000, but it also reflects a significant redistribution of the population.
Growth has been concentrated in areas around Seven Lakes and the southern part of the county, primarily around Pinehurst.
The ideal population for each district is 17,649. However, some of the existing districts are lopsided in size, ranging from 7,158 too many residents in one district to 5,052 too few in another district.
Changes in district boundaries will not affect voters in Moore County because the residency restriction applies to the candidate, not the voter.
All five members of the Board of Commissioners and five of the eight school board members must reside within a particular district in order to seek office. The other three school board members are elected at large, which means that candidates may reside in any part of the county. All registered voters in Moore County may vote for all candidates for commissioner or school board, regardless of where the voter resides.
The principal effect of the new district lies in the pool of potential candidates. By equalizing the population of each district, the new districts offer a more equal number of people interested and suitable for candidacy.
Equitability was the primary reason the league has been pushing for a change in districts. The U.S. Constitution requires congressional and state legislative redistricting after each census but does not specifically address local offices.
The map options were the work of the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) staff, using census voting blocks and geospatial mapping skills to develop assorted districts with almost equal population numbers and acceptable demographic boundaries.
The trick was to draw maps that more or less follow the same outlines of the five commissioner districts and the five school board districts without damaging traditional cultural lines and without displacing incumbents.
GIS Director Chris Koltyk presented the subject to the commissioners but made no recommendations. Board members had no questions and decided to go along with the option recommended by the league.
One commissioner, Tim Lea, was absent Tuesday because of illness.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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