Granville redistricting plan ready

Mar. 08, 2013 @ 05:54 PM

OXFORD — Revised county elections districts have been given approval by the Granville County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education following a joint meeting Thursday.

The proposal, needed due to miscalculating the prison population in District 3, will next move to a public hearing for residents concerns and comments on March 26. After the hearing, the two boards can vote on a final plan to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval.
A draft plan presented by Adam Mitchell of the Tharrington Smith law firm gained approval from everyone on both boards with exception of Commissioner Ed Mims. A second plan was developed during the meeting as a result of Mims’ concerns.

Mims questioned the strategy involved in the plan’s development and if each of the seven districts made contributions to the changes.

“We thought every district would have to contribute something,” Mims said. “If not, we need to look at the whole county.”

Brenda Dickerson-Daniel of the school board responded, “We all gave up something,” and David Smith of the county commission added, “All of us have skin in the game. Everybody gained some and we lost some of the people that supported us.”

District 3’s miscalculation form the U.S. Census Bureau report in 2010 was 2,387 prisoners who should have been counted in Durham County. The prison straddles the county line.

District lines are drawn with an effort to equally distribute the population. Each of the seven districts had no more than 5 percent difference from the ideal in the plan approved in 2011.

To correct the imbalance, Mitchell displayed a series of maps and tables showing adjustments in the boundaries of Districts 3, 5, 6 and 7.

“I was looking to make as few moves as possible to get District 3 up to where it ought to be,” Mitchell said.

In the solution he proposed, a portion of District 7 would be moved to District 3, a portion of District 6 would be moved to District 7 and a portion of District 5 would be moved to District 6. Districts 1, 2 and 4 would remain unchanged. Mitchell pointed out that the largest deviation from the ideal under the proposed plan was 2.3 percent.

“I think this plan would be cleared,” Mitchell said regarding approval by the U.S. Justice Department.

Mims questioned the number of schools, polling places and fire stations not being equitably distributed among the districts.

Edgar Smoak, the commissioners’ chairman who co-chaired the meeting with school board chairman Leonard Peace, said he took offense to Mims suggesting the plan was not strategically developed.

“We have to put the lines where people live, not where you want them to be,” Smoak said.

Board of Education member Donnie Boyd, who like Mims represents District 5, said that the placement of schools is determined by the availability of land and the price.

When Mims asked for another option, County Manager Brian Alligood said, “Adam can do that right now.”

During a break, Mitchell changed the section of District 5 to be moved to District 6.

When the meeting reconvened, Smoak asked the commissioners to vote on the two proposals. Six commissioners voted for the original proposal; Mims voted for the revised proposal.

When Peace asked the school board members to vote, they unanimously voted for the original proposal.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.