04/05/11 — City will have to redistrict

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City will have to redistrict

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on April 5, 2011 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council approved a framework Monday night that will be used, in the coming weeks, to redraw the district lines for electing council members -- a process that will likely mean no city elections this year because of the time needed to reconfigure the districts and have them approved by the United States Department of Justice, as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Planning Director Randy Guthrie presented data during the board's pre-meeting work session that confirmed the need to redistrict based on 2010 Census results the city received the first week of March.

Guthrie then presented the resolution that was later approved -- one that contains the criteria that will be used for the redistricting process set to be completed with the help of a consultant.

The 2010 Census revealed that Goldsboro's total population fell from 39,147 to 36,474 since data was last collected in 1999 for the 2000 Census.

Guthrie said the formula for determining whether redistricting is necessary begins by finding the ideal population of each district, which is accomplished by dividing the total population of the city by the number of districts -- in this case, six. That means, the ideal population number is 6,073.

Then, officials look at the district with the most people above the ideal and then the district with the most population below the ideal -- those numbers are expressed as percentages.

The deviation in District 4 is 23.27 percent below the ideal, while the actual District 6 population is 35.3 percent higher than the ideal, resulting in a deviation that is greater than 10.

"If it's greater than 10, the rule of thumb is you generally need to look to redistrict," Guthrie said.

Guthrie said that while the districts were balanced in 2000, differences in development and residents moving out of districts led to the population shifts.

The resolution set the required criteria for the redistricting, taking into account public input solicitation and respecting communities of interest and the federally mandated one person, one vote requirement.

This process, Mayor Al King said in October, could be completed by July, but an additional requirement placed on states with histories of discriminatory voting practices could lengthen the process by as many as 60 days. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 maintains that Goldsboro cannot implement changes affecting voting without first obtaining the approval of the Department of Justice, a process that could last up to two months.

That delay likely means there will be no city elections this fall, a year when all six councilmen and the mayor are up for re-election.

Interim City Manager Tasha Logan said that if city elections are, indeed, put on hold because of the redistricting process, they would not be held until November 2012 -- that those who are ultimately elected would serve three-year terms to get the city back on its "regular schedule."