Beaufort County remains whole in special master’s House, Senate proposals

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, December 14, 2017


The redistricting maps released Dec. 1 by a court-appointed special master keep Beaufort County in new state House and state Senate districts included in a redistricting plan approved this past summer by the North Carolina General Assembly.

Special master Nathaniel Persily’s latest map does not affect what legislators did in regard to Beaufort County. Under the map approved by the legislature earlier this year, Beaufort County and northern Craven County would be combined to form District 79 in the N.C. House of Representatives. It would have no incumbent representative. Also, Beaufort County would be removed from the current state Senate District 1, represented by Sen. Bill Cook, a Beaufort County Republican, and placed into a District 3, which would include Martin, Bertie, Warren, Vance and Northampton counties. Democrat Erica Smith-Ingram represents the current District 3, which includes Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Tyrrell and Washington counties.

Cook has said he will not seek re-election next year.

Persily’s final plan drew quick criticism from Republican legislators and praise from those who challenged the GOP-produced maps. In his 69-page report, Persily wrote “all of the constitutional infirmities the Court has identified in the plans enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017.”

Persily dismissed Republicans’ complaints that he placed race-based population targets in new boundaries. Persily said he concentrated on other redistricting standards. In August, Republican state Sen. Phil Berger, leader of the state Senate, advised Democrats they should be more concerned with geography than gerrymandering after they criticized new district maps. Berger said Democrats should focus on their party’s platform instead of the partisan leaning of legislative districts. Berger does not believe the maps adopted by the legislature this past summer are a product partisan gerrymandering.

Allison Riggs, the senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and attorney for the plaintiffs in the redistricting lawsuit, released a statement after Persily released his final maps. The following is part of that statement: “We appreciate the hard work done by Dr. Persily to make sure that North Carolinians have fair districts and an equal voice in our democracy.  It appears he took into account all of the feedback he received from plaintiffs and defendants.”

The federal court that appointed Persily as special master ordered him to provide his final maps by Dec. 1. He released preliminary maps in mid-November. That’s when Persily, a Stanford University law professor, also asked for formal responses from Republican legislative leaders who drew the original boundaries and from voters who were successful in suing over the Republican-draw maps by Nov. 24.

The judges scheduled a hearing on Persily’s final report at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 5, 2018.

Currently, part of Beaufort County is in the 6th District, represented by Rep. Beverly Boswell, a Republican who lives in Dare County. Another part of Beaufort County is in the 3rd District, represented by Rep. Michael Speciale, a Republican from Craven County.

Under the proposed plan, the 6th District, which now includes a part of Beaufort County and all of Hyde, Washington and Dare counties, would include all of Dare, Currituck, Hyde and Washington counties. The proposed plan would change the 3rd District from including parts of Beaufort County and Craven County (southern areas of each county) and all of Pamlico County to all the southern section of Craven County and all of Pamlico County.

The filing period for candidates seeking to represent House District 79 and Senate District 3 begins Feb. 12, 2018, and ends Feb. 28, 2018.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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