The real hypocrisy

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 7, 2011

We’ve written it before, but it’s worth writing again and again: A redistricting plan recently released by leaders in the N.C. General Assembly would take nearly all of the city of Washington out of Beaufort County and place it in a new House District 9 with a seat of power in western Pitt County.

Leaders in the local Democratic and Republican parties have made it clear this plan would diminish Beaufort County’s clout in Raleigh. In fact, the plan has been met with bipartisan disapproval.

Stories on our news pages have demonstrated that it’s not necessary for the Legislature to carve up Beaufort County to meet the dictates of new census tracts. The newly configured District 9 could find, in the much more heavily populated Pitt County, the population it needs to achieve an ideal district population number.

There is no statistical reason for lawmakers to divide Beaufort County. Therefore, the reason for this proposed division must be a political one.

And politics as usual isn’t in our county’s interest.

When Democratic lawmakers proposed splitting Beaufort County roughly a decade ago, the Washington Daily News vigorously opposed that plan.

We used our editorial page to assert that Democrats were wrong to craft maps that arbitrarily split counties, and the Stephenson court decision — named for the now-late plaintiff in a redistricting lawsuit, Ashley Stephenson of Beaufort County — proved that point beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Now, Republicans in Raleigh are proposing to do what Democrats would have done if the courts hadn’t stopped them. This latest map would parcel out portions of Beaufort County to another legislative district for the first time in perhaps a generation.

Bottom line, this issue isn’t about partisanship, though some would have our community’s people drink the proverbial Kool-Aid and believe it is. The very few people who are pushing this plan locally seem to be putting their own ideological convictions above the practical needs of their neighbors.

This issue is about Beaufort County voters — black, white, Latino, Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated and others — retaining the right to elect their own representative from their own county.

This is about Beaufort County, the home of the Stephenson decision.

If you don’t want to see Beaufort County split, call state Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort. Cook is a member of the House redistricting committee.

Cook may be reached at 252-946-5876 or, in Raleigh, at 919-733-5906.

Ask Cook to speak out against any map that would divide Beaufort County.

You also may wish to call the man with the real power on the House redistricting committee: Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, senior chairman of that committee. Lewis may be reached at 910-897-8100 or, in Raleigh, at 919-715-3015.