District 1 to be reshaped on census data
by Staff Writer
CHARLOTTE – Members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education hope to have new political districts drawn by the end of September.
According to U.S. Census population and demographic data released earlier this year, the county’s population has grown by more than 32 percent from 2000 to 2010. New election lines are drawn every 10 years to ensure equal representation throughout the school district.
At the board’s Tuesday, Aug. 23 meeting, the district’s Executive Director for Planning and Project Management Michael Raible presented board members with three potential redistricting options. District staff drafted Options B and E, while the third option is identical to the election districts recently adopted by the state legislature for the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners.
All three options considerably reduce the population of District 1, which includes the towns of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson and is currently represented by board member Rhonda Lennon. Changes should only affect voters in the southern portion of District 1.
The following changes could occur:
• Option B: Moves one precinct into District 2 and five precincts into District 3.
• Option E: Moves five precincts into District 2 and two precincts into District 3.
• Board of County Commissioners Option: Moves three precincts into District 2 and six precincts into District 3. District one would also gain precinct 211 from District 3.
All three redistricting options comply with the following guidelines set by the board earlier this year:
• Three at-large and six district members serve on the board.
• Members on the board serve for four-year staggered terms. At-large members are elected during the year before a presidential election and district members are elected the year after a presidential election.
• The concern that new districts could place two incumbents running against each other should not be considered.
• Precincts should be kept whole and not split.
• The district should continue to have at least two districts in which minority voters comprise the majority.
• The northern Mecklenburg towns, Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson, should remain together in one district. The same applies to the county’s southern towns, Mint Hill and Matthews.
• The new districts should not take political concerns into consideration because the Board of Education is considered an apolitical body.
At-large member Kaye McGarry raised concerns that adopting district lines different from those set for the board of county commissioners could confuse voters.
According to Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh, it has been 13 years since the board of education and board of county commissioners has had overlapping districts.
“I think we could (end up) confusing the voters,” McGarry said. “Because there are not a whole lot of differences between (the options), I think that is something we need to consider.”
At-large member Joe “Coach” White also pointed out that the state legislature chose the county board district lines, bypassing opportunities for local input. In July, the state legislature passed House Bill 719, which allows the state to step in and redraw local election lines in Mecklenburg and Guilford counties in order to protect small towns from urban interest.
“They were told what to do by the state,” White said.
The move occurred after the citizen’s advisory committee had drawn and voted on four maps to present to the county board. Republican committee members appealed to the state to intervene out of fear that the Democrat-led county board was prepared to approve a plan that would divide Matthews and Mint Hill. The plan would tie the two towns to Charlotte districts, potentially diluting their influence.
The school board plans to hold a public hearing on the election line options during their Sept. 13 meeting and will make a final vote on Sept. 27.
Want to learn more?
Visit www.huntersvilleherald.com to see maps of the three redistricting options and the current board of education election districts.