Redistricting decision could affect filing period

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018


The filing period for candidates seeking seats in the North Carolina General Assembly begins in less than a month — overshadowed by uncertainty if some legislative districts drawn and approved by the state legislature in August 2017 will remain intact or be changed.

The filing period begins Feb. 12 and ends Feb. 28.

The uncertainty over the legislative districts could be cleared up by a three-judge federal panel, but when — before the filing period begins, during the filing period or after the filing period? The timing of the panel’s decision might affect the state’s 2018 legislative elections.

On Jan. 5, that panel — James Wynn, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder, both with the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina — heard arguments regarding special master Nathaniel Persily’s report regarding the legislative districts. The judges have yet to reach a decision regarding those districts.

Those arguments focused on proposed changes to election districts in Cumberland, Guilford, Hoke, Mecklenburg, Wake, Bladen, Sampson and Wayne counties. At the Jan. 5 hearing, Republican leaders introduced a critique of Persily’s report that was written by Douglas Johnson, a redistricting consultant. Johnson concluded that in Persily’s proposal there are comparable percentages of the black voting-age population in each of the four districts where the judges believed there could still be illegal racial-based gerrymandering. Republicans believe that shows Persily used race to develop his proposals.

Eddie Spears, an attorney representing those who support Persily’s plan, told the judges Persily’s proposal “cures the racial gerrymander.”

Last year in a ruling, those judges asserted that four districts redrawn last summer by Republican legislators continued to preserve illegal racial bias, according to an Associated Press report. Persily said he redrew compact replacements for those four districts, and he reworked several districts in and around Raleigh and Charlotte because of likely state constitutional problems.

Unless something happens — a court order more than likely — Beaufort County’s state House and state Senate districts will change. 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.

Persily’s redistricting map, made public late last year, 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 D. Smith 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 this year.

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.








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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