01/04/12 — Justice Department gives preclearance to Wayne County voting boundaries

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Justice Department gives preclearance to Wayne County voting boundaries

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 4, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County's new voting district lines have been pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department, with just over a month left before candidates can begin filing for the May 8 primary.

Pre-clearance is not the same as final approval, but means that a preliminary review by the Justice Department found no problems with the proposed district lines. That leaves the new lines open for future review and possible legal action by the department.

The city of Goldsboro's new lines received pre-clearance in November. The towns of Mount Olive and Fremont are still waiting to hear whether their district boundaries will pass federal muster.

Population growth, as well as population shifts, in the county necessitated the redistricting, and Wayne County remains subject to the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which has been renewed until 2032.

One requirement of that act is that minority districts, in this case Districts 2 and 3, be maintained.

Filing will begin at noon Feb. 13 and end at noon Feb. 29 for the May 8 primary. A second primary, if needed, would be held June 26. The general election is Nov. 6.

All seven county commissioners are up for election this year. It will be the first election for District 1 Commissioner Ray Mayo, who was appointed by commissioners last month to fill the unexpired term of Andy Anderson.

Also up for election are at-large school board member Eddie Radford, Len Henderson, District 2, and Thelma Smith, District 3. Henderson was appointed by the school board in August 2010 to complete the unexpired term of Shirley Sims.

Wayne County Districts 1, 5 and 6 reflect the most obvious changes.

Prior to the new lines District 5, represented by Commissioner Bud Gray and school board member Arnold Flowers, extended from the Wayne-Duplin county line south and east of Mount Olive encompassing the eastern part of the county as far north as Wayne Memorial Drive.

The new District 5 lines take a portion of eastern District 1, represented by Mayo and school board member Chris West, extending north to Davis Mill Road to just east of the Fremont town limit.

District 6 surrenders some areas of Goldsboro to District 3 and takes a portion east of Dudley that is now in District 5.

The new lines also meet a goal of Mount Olive officials -- bringing most of the town under one district instead of having it split by District 4, represented by Commissioner Steve Keen and school board member John Grantham and District 2 represented by Commissioner J.D. Evans and Henderson.

All of Mount Olive now falls within District 2 with the exception of a small area in the southwestern section of the town that remains in District 4.

Mount Olive Town Board member Kenny Talton, a Republican, announced last month that he plans to file for the District 2 seat now held by Evans, a Democrat.

Copies of the new maps will be posted on the Wayne County government website, www.waynegov.com under the Board of Elections.