It is now three o'clock and that is the end of sign up for speaking and I'll ask the people who signed up if you've already spoken one time at the redistricting meeting earlier I'm going to put you at the very end of the list and the reason being I want everyone to have a chance to speak that hasn't spoken before. And before we start welcome to the redistricting, I'm senator Bob Rucho the first thing first introduce our pages. I've go Aaron Olmo from Holly Springs senator Barringer thank you for being here. Sylvia Craig Holden Beach senator Rabin. Marica Bishop Carrie senator Barringer. Ellis Stevens Mooresville senator Curtis. Kevin Woo, Kerry senator Berger. Trent Brown Cerro Gordo senator Rabin. Reagan Weights Raleigh senator Barefoot. Thank you very much I appreciate your pages being here and helping us during this week at the general assembly I hope your stay is enjoyable. Sergeant at arms who make this a very efficiently run meeting Steve Mcage, Giles Geoffries, Steve Wilson, Marcus Kits. Thank you folks for helping out. Because time is of the essence we're going to move forward, first thing first we're going to do senate bill thirty six. Yes thank you. And we're going to have senator Wade come forward she's got a few comments early on we're going to have public hearing on as much as we can and then this bill will be voted out today as will the Wake county bill. Senator Wade welcome, senate bill thirty six. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman, last time we discussed the bill thoroughly so I just wanted to remind the committee and everyone present Mr. Chair that it's a seven district plan with a mayor at large is non partisan and it's fair equitable and legal. Since the time a little new information has come in. Last night the local chapter of the NAACP did take a position on the redistricting bill and if it's okay with the chair I'd like to read it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes ma'am please read it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] President Gladis Shipman announced today that on Monday March 9th 2015 the Greensboro branch of the NAACP executive committee voted in support of senate bill thirty six. Which changes the election system for electing city council members to the Greensboro city council. The NAACP feels that senate bill thirty six will give the African American and minority community greater opportunities to have a stronger and more effective voice on the Greensboro city council. Now I wanted to bring that to everyone's attention that did happen last night. And that was some news I knew the committee wasn't aware of. And Mr. Chairman I'm fine if you want to go ahead with the public comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay and we'll come back to you during the discussion Senator Wade thank you. All right, in an effort to move forward I'll ask the ones that will be speaking that there will be a two minute time limit. Steve's got the copy of the sign that says twenty seconds and then stop. So that we're fair with everybody when your twenty seconds is there try to close your speech and when that stop sign goes up you expected to stop and we would ask the next person to be ready. Once the public session is done on this issue then we'll have committees statements and committee questions that will come forward. All right, my first was on the list was Marshal Bennett I understand he has spoken already last week. I think Miss Wells spoke last week. Miss Vaughn your next on deck Anna Fosmeier. Please identify yourself and you have two minutes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Nancy Vaughn and I am the mayor of Greensboro. I
I am in opposition to Senate Bill 36. I am joined here today by four of our council members, including Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson. Last week you were given a resolution in opposition to Senate Bill 36 which passed by a vote of eight to one. I pride myself on being extremely accessible and in tune with the voters of Greensboro. I have no doubt that this proposal is not supported by the majority of Greensboro residents. To that end I ask that you do not take my word for this, but put the proposal to the ultimate test in the form of a referendum before the voters of Greensboro. If you base your vote exclusively on who is able to attend a committee meeting in Raleigh, you will be doing our residents a great disservice. We all recognize that redistricting is a very serious issue. The last time we redistricted was in 2011, and it was not without controversy. Ironically, the plan that was ultimately adopted was presented by then District 5 City Councilwoman Trudy Wade. The plan was adopted by a vote of seven to two. Dr. Wade and former Mayor Bill Knight voted in favor of our current council system. Former mayor Robbie Perkins was on the board as well. In reviewing the notes and reports from the debate, there was no voter concern about lack of representation or overrepresentation in certain parts of the city. There was no discussion about decreasing the size of the board, making the district smaller, or eliminating at-large representation. Nothing has changed since then. This is a solution in search of a problem. John Hood of the John Locke Foundation echoed Governor McCrory’s recent statement when he wrote “Moderate conservatives place a high value on federalism. We believe that fiscal and policy decisions ought to be made as close to local communities as necessary. The federal government ought to not go beyond the powers enumerated in the Constitution. States, in turn, ought to devolve as much power as possible to the counties, municipalities, school districts and other localities. Thank you so much for your consideration. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Anna Fesmire is next, and Reverend T. Anthony Spearman is on deck. Would you identify yourself please? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate Redistricting Commission Committee, I’m Anna Fesmire from Greensboro. I am Co-President of the League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad, a nonpartisan organization with several hundred members and supporters, and I have come to express our very strong opposition to Senate Bill 36. This bill would take a system of local government that is working for the citizens and break it by reducing the power of every voter in our city to elect representatives to look out for their interests. It is absolutely false that a seven-district system as proposed will provide more equitable representation for all. We all know that five is greater than one. There are now five city council representatives who have an incentive to listen to my concerns because they need my vote. This bill would reduce that sphere of influence to one person. Once you’re locked in your oddly-shaped district with only one representative having a reason to care about what you care about, if that person happens not to care what you think, there will be no where for you to turn. Even though you voted for the mayor, the mayor will not be able to help you. It won’t be surprising if many citizens conclude that voting in a city election is no longer worth the trouble. What about the oft-repeated principle that government shouldn’t intrude in the lives of citizens? I commend all of you members of the committee for serving in elective office, but I did not vote for any of you, not because I wouldn’t, but because I couldn’t. That you have the power to make this decision for the citizens of Greensboro is an unfortunate aspect of our state government, but it is a power lever that you don’t have to pull. I urge you to oppose this disenfranchising and unnecessary piece of legislation, and I’d like to ask all of those who are here in opposition to stand. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. I have Reverend T. Anthony Spearman that’s up at the mic, and please introduce yourself. On deck… Mr. Taylor has already spoken. I have Marikay Abuzuaiter. Maybe I mispronounced that, but you’ll be on next. Reverend Spearman, identify yourself please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair, I am T. Anthony Spearman, the Pastor of St. Phillip African American Episcopal Zion Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and also the third Vice President of the North Carolina NAACP. I want first, as the third Vice President of the North Carolina NAACP
To explicitly ensure this body that the actions Senator Wade mentioned in her remarks was in violation of the constitution of the NAACP. Any bill that is proposed and that support is sought for at state level, especially on voting or redistricting has to be vetted by our State NAACP lawyers to see the impact and precedent it will set, and the potential racial district impact before any branch can render any public opinion. And there is only one spokesperson for the State's NAACP, that is the president on who's behalf I am speaking and have been sent here today. And only one for the local branch, I am here as that spokesperson and nothing has been vetted at this point. As an individual citizen, a voter, I am opposed to anything that dilutes or has the potential to dilute the power of the people to vote. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Thank you, sir. All right, MaryKay Abusiwaiter is coming up and Sharon Cassica is on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Yes, my name is MaryKay Abusiwaiter, I am an at-large member of the Greensboro City Council and I oppose Senate Bill 36. Thank you Senators about the opportunity to speak to you about the proposed restructuring of the Greensboro City Council and districts. I also appreciate you reading my email to you. In addition to my email comments I would like to say the following, and I would like to add the following. One, this week it has been mentioned by Senator Wade that at-large council candidates have to raise an enormous amount of money for their campaigns. That is just not the case, and has not been the case in Greensboro. In the 2013 Greensboro City Council race, there were several district candidates who raised and spent much money than the several at-large candidates, and during the 2011 election, four of the five districts raised more money for their campaigns than mine did. The second comment made was that it is geographic location where too many council members are in the same district. Geographic location does not determine who is elected and is an at-large council person. In fact, there would not be so many sitting council members in the new district plan if it had not been drawn that way. The voters elect the at-large council members, and geographic location, I can assure you, does not influence their vote. At-large council members are elected by informed voters who want their people to represent in a transparent and accountable manner. If you check where all the votes for council members at-large come from, I can assure you they are not elected because of a certain geographic location. Should you elect to proceed with Senate Bill 36, I respectfully ask that you allow it to go before the citizens. Citizens are asking us to represent them and request this, and its Greensboro City Council voted 9 to zero for it to go on a referendum, thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Thank you, very much. Sharon Cassica at the mike, and please, I would need you to identify yourself. And I have Joanne Wittenborn on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Hi, my name is Sharon Cassica, I want to thank Senator Rucho and the committee members for permitting me to speak today. I am a native of Greensboro and currently reside in the city limits of Greensboro and am a taxpayer. I am speaking in support of Senate Bill 36 because I believe the current make up of our district has limited Greensboro's potential for far too long. In the 1970s I remember as a child, Greensboro was the envy of other cities, such as Raleigh and Charlotte, that have now passed us by, by leaps and bounds. There's a reason, since then we have seen a slow decline in good paying jobs, quality of life, and overall economic prosperity. It is time to make a change. Senate Bill 36 seeks to make a positive change to districts that give more voice to the minority community, give better representation to all city residents, and structures the council to mirror our state and federal government. Who better understands the challenges we face in the City of Greensboro than our past City Council woman and Guilford County Senator Trudy Wade? In the private sector, change is recognized as positive growth, without which stagnation ensues, which I believe
Is what we are in the city of Greensboro, so I ask you to please support Senate Bill 36. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Joanne Wittenborn is next, James Lewis on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. My name is Joanne Wittenborn and when asked where I live I always say Greensboro. Critics of SB 36 say I do not have a right to speak about this issue as I do not live within the boundaries of the city and I really beg to differ. My mailing address says Greensboro and my home is very close to the city line. More importantly everything the city is involved in, good and bad, affects my family and my home. If Greensboro is prosperous my property values will go up and the opposite is just as true. Right now Greensboro has the highest tax rate of the larger cities and there appears to be very little job development going on. This bill will make sure that the entire city is represented. I know it has been said before but I still find it hard to believe that five of the council members live within walking distance of one another. Why are they then surprised when the districts were drawn up for this bill that they would all end up in the same district and will have to run against each other for one seat. This is a good thing as it will allow more people to run for the council. I have known Senator Wade for many years. I know her to be a good and honest person, one who cares for her fellow man. By putting this bill forward it shows that the senator is for all of the people in Greensboro. Right now 42% of the citizens of Greensboro do not have a district representative on the council. It is time to break up the small group of power brokers who have had a stranglehold on the city for a very long time. The city has not prospered for decades. It’s time for a change and it’s time to do the right thing. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. I have James Lewis coming to the microphone. Last week Julie Peoples spoke and then on deck I have Reverend Dr. Curtis H. Brown Jr. Alright, Mr. Lewis. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon. My name is Jim Lewis, for the record I’m James Lewis. My wife Kimberly and I have lived in Greensboro for 15 years. My background, I was in the apparel business. I ran large, very large company, multi-divisional companies. That brought me to Greensboro. I bought hundreds of millions of yards of fabric. I remember Greensboro during the real heydays. I mean, they were probably the most prosperous city in the state of North Carolina, certainly per capita. I have a lot of experience, turned around a number of companies so I know what to look for. When I moved there I fully knew that Greensboro was going through a transformation. They needed to because we watched the demise of the textile industry. I’ve watched for 15 years. I did a little bit of research on a few years prior and I’ve watched basically a couple of decades go by and from my point of view, and I am a business man, I don’t see a lot of progress. What we need is we need somebody that can lead Greensboro back to prosperity and right now I think the complexity in the city council is inhibiting that. I’d love to see the mayor not have all the shackles and all the bureaucracy weighing them down so they can go ahead and lead this city. I like the idea of simplifying the process and allowing one individual to lead a group of people and have a longer tenure, 4 years so they can actually accomplish something. I don’t look at it as rocket science because it isn’t. So I’m in favor of this bill. You know, I think that after 20 years when something hasn’t worked effectively it’s time to try something different. This is not radical, okay, this is not even low risk. This is no risk at all, okay? So finally let me say that the current structure hasn’t worked in over two decades, so what’s the risk in trying something a bit different. I want to see Greensboro led back to prosperity. Give it a shot. Let them breathe. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Reverend Brown, you’re up, and on deck Ernie Whitten Born. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. I’m Curtis Brown. I’ve been a resident of North Carolina for just about 70 years and I’ve been a resident of Greensboro North Carolina since 1963 and I am very thankful to stand today to share with you my position to Senate Bill 36. It’s certainly, even though it is presented as a way forward, that there might be more black participation, but we have learned through many years of struggle that that is
Absolutely not true. There is nothing that empowers the black community more than the right to participate in the science of government which gives us a voice and vote. Any time you take that from any citizenry, you are diminishing our democracy and nobody that is elected by the citizens of North Carolina succeeds the power that should be in the people. That is a government of the people, for the people, by the people. I'd pray, as being a pastor now for fifty years, that you will not take this away from the citizens of Greensboro in North Carolina. If this is to be, put it in the form of a referendum so all of the citizens of our wonderful city can have a voice and a vote. I certainly pray that you will do the right thing. I've had privilege to work with Senator Wade as the chair for the Department of Social Services in Greensboro and other things in the city and I know, and I pray that you will not push this bill so that the citizens are denied their voice. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Wittenborn is next and Yvonne Johnson on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Irving Wittenborn, I live at 3809 Waldenburg Road, Greensboro, North Carolina. I stand before you asking for your support for bill SP36. It's a good bill and I encourage your support. Why? It is consistent with the US Constitution and North Carolina Constitution, which provide for representative Republican government and is consistent with Supreme Court decisions and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ensures all people having equal representation. How does it do this? By defining seven equitably drawn districts. Excuse me. All citizens will have an equal voice in their government. I urge your support for this good bill. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Yvonne Johnson at the microphone. Sharon Hightower on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm Yvonne Johnson. I'm the Vice Mayor of the city of Greensboro, and I'm opposed to this bill. I think it was Tip O'Neill who said all politics are local and best served by local people and I think your governor said something similar recently. That he really didn't like Washington telling the state of North Carolina what to do. The same principle is before us today, and I think whether you believe this is a good bill or you believe it's not, the people of Greensboro have the right and should vote on it. So I am asking all you senators and thank you for hearing us and having us, to please vote against this. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Sharon Hightower at the microphone. Jamal Fox on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon, senate committee. I'm Sharon Hightower, Greensboro City Council District 1 representative, which is a minority district. One of two in the city of Greensboro. I certainly advocate for having minority representation but I advocate even further for having fair and equal representation in the city. I am opposed to senate bill 36, because it does not allow fair representation. Having served my first term on the City Counsel this year, I have been a grass-root community organizer for many years. And what I've found is being on the other side of the die is, the five three one system works. I am able to advocate my district rep, the three at large, and the mayor to hear my concerns and to support my community. To do the seven district system takes that away. There's nothing about three minority districts that can overrule five people who can support you in what you need to get done for your community. Seven districts is not democracy. This is not what democracy looks like. What democracy looks like is for people to be able to vote for those the want to put in office. And whether you do two terms,
Terms of four terms. It does’t have anything to do with how that representation should look like, and so today I’m here to say to you Senate Committee, consider not to support this bill at all because even if it passes and goes through we hope to stop it down the road and we can do that by putting it on a referendum and letting the people decide how they want to change their local city government. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Jamal Fox at the microphone, Mr. Baskerville has spoken, [??] on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. I won’t be before you long. My name is Jamal Fox and I’m a city of Greensboro City Councilman representing NE Greensboro. The youngest elected in the city of Greensboro. I’m serving my first term and you’ve heard from many opposing Senate Bill 36. I too oppose Senate Bill 36. This legislation I’ve seen tear Greensboro apart regardless of which side of the issue you folks are on. We should be coming together as not only a community, a city and a state for the greater good. There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political, not popular but because you’re conscience says it’s right. So today I urge you to oppose Senate Bill 36 and do you have the courage to do what is right and oppose Senate Bill 36 because your conscience says it’s the right thing to do and allow the people of the city of Greensboro to have their say? And if you pass it, send it to a referendum. Allow us to go back home, talk to our people and allow our people to vote on this bill. So I stand with the majority of my community, our community, opposing Senate Bill 36 and I plead to your conscience to do the right thing. That’s why we elected you to be where you are, representing us right here in the state capital. Thank you for your time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Sir. Michael Garrett. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Michael Garrett. I’m a small business owner in Greensboro. I’m not a member of the city council. I don’t represent anybody but myself, but I am a voter, a resident and a taxpayer and I’d like to share with you a quote by a little known politician. His quote was I’m not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right and stand with him while he is right and part with him when he is wrong. And that little known politician was President Abraham Lincoln, and members of this Senate Committee, if you stand with Senator Wade you’re standing with someone who’s wrong. You’ve heard people come before this committee, people that live in Greensboro and love Greensboro and that beg you not to do this. You’ve heard from some political operatives in the republican party that I used to be a member of that say this is right. I said used to be a member of the republican party because my republican party that I loved since I registered to vote since I was 17.5 years old left me and we have to stand with people that are right and that are on the right side of the issue. When this legislature was elected in 2010 for the first time for the most part in 100 years you were elected to work on jobs for the people of North Carolina, to make education work for us again and for transparency and here we are in 2015 with a bill before us that reengineers local government by a strong handed central government that’s not right for the people and that’s not working for the people. So I hope that you stand on the right side of history and with the citizens of Greensboro and oppose this bill. Thank you. [applause] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, let’s have some order. Now, for the ones that did come and had spoken previously I’m gonna give an additional minute if you have something new to add to your previous discussion. First one, Marshall Bennett. If there’s nothing new, give someone else an opportunity. I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you. Okay, very good. Goldie Wells. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you mind if I speak, just one minute? [SPEAKER CHANGES] And Marshall, is it something new? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, this is new
Okay Marshal. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay my name is Marshal Bennett once again hello everybody. I am from Greensboro. I am here to day to speak about a meeting that the Guilford general council assembly legislation had on February twelfth. Because not all of you are from Greensboro I'm sure you don't know the opposition this bill has received at that meeting. So many people showed up in opposition to S thirty six on February twelfth that about seventy five people couldn't even get into that room. The meeting ran so late that not everyone who was signed up to speak was allowed to do so. But out of everyone who did speak three supported Senator Wade's bill. Over one hundred people citizens of Greensboro showed up to that meeting to oppose this bill. Please if your going to pass this put it to a referendum let the people of Greensboro decide. We did not elect any of the members of this committee you do not represent Greensboro. I respect everything that you do for our state but please let the people of Greensboro decide our own system of government. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Goldie Wells, one minute or [SPEAKER CHANGES] Noting new. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, thank you ma'am. I've got Willy Taylor, not here okay. Thank you, thank you ma'am. Miss Peoples. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you members of the committee. My name is Julie Peoples I've been a resident of Greensboro for close to twenty four years. Friends many of us cherish the ten commandments one of those commandments says that we are to be honest. Thou shalt not lie. I would ask you very respectfully please tell the truth. Please if you vote for this tell us exactly why. First we were told it was about minority, first we were told it was about some anonymous business man wanting more representation, that's gone away now we're hearing minority representation when in fact it will not increase minority representation. Please tell us the truth about where next, Charlotte, Ashville, Raleigh, Durham. Where is this plan going to be expanded to. I have great confidence in the people of Greensboro please tell the truth. If you are convinced of the righteousness of this action tell us the reasons and let the people of Greensboro make the right decisions we will. Many would say North Carolina is not prospering I doubt you would support the federal government taking control of state elections. Even if you believe we need to make the changes in Greensboro it is up to us please let us decide. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Last person Daryl Baskerville you have a minute or do you have nothing new to add? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes I do, have it written down this time so it's not going to be ad libbed. Good afternoon committee my name is Daryl Baskerville and I'm a resident of Greensboro and I oppose senate bill thirty six. As a community organizer and justice advocate working with young residents an millennials in my city this type of legislation makes it difficult to persuade and engage them that government is trustworthy. And that it works not for themselves with partisan party politics but rather for the people. Especially for people like tham who have a deep mistrust of government. This mistrust comes from young people viewing the police who wage war against black bodies in tandem with the government. This bill begs the question for young people can we trust a government that does not listen to the people. In this room how do you look your own children in the face how do you look young people in the face and honestly tell them that their government values we the people? The residents of Greensboro have spoken. Changes in local government should be handled by local people. If this bill goes through it should have clear amendments. It should if it goes through. It should allow the mayor to have a vote. It should eliminate the provision that won't allow the local level to ever change it's government. Black lives matter Greensboro for justice kill bill thirty six thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. All right that concludes the public portion of this committee meeting. Members of the committee any questions. Senator Wade would you come forward. And I will find after the members of the committee speak senator Robinson would like an opportunity to speak for a few moments. Now, any comments or questions to staff or to senator Wade? Good to see you senator Mckissick. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good to see you senator Rucho. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Wade a couple of questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Through the chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Absolutely through the chair each time. Let me ask you this, what is the partisan make up of Greensboro city council at this time if you know it. I mean of the members that are there
How many are Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, they're non-partisan. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I know. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I would say probably two Republicans and seven Democrats. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Seven Democrats. Follow up. Let me ask you this, Senator Wade. In terms of the maps that have been drawn at this time, of course we have seven districts which have been created. Now I know that I've heard many people indicate that Greensboro's population is growing. And that's one of the reasons they want to change the district plans. But in light of the fact the population is growing, why would you want to decrease the representation back to members? I mean it would seem that if anything that might be a time to consider increasing the size of the council, rather than moving it from nine to seven? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick, the way it sits now, by having it large members and it's only decreasing by one member. The way it's set now, certainly five members live within a two mile radius. And several of those, well actually there's three at-large members and the mayor. Which puts some districts at a disadvantage, with five people living in that proximity of each other, and I can talk about whatever district you would like, but sometimes it's difficult for a district rep to get a majority to help them vote on their district because you already have five in a particular district. And I'll give you the example that one of the speakers gave, which happens to be my city council representative. He mentioned that a park had been on the books for a district for ten years. It didn't get built for ten years, yet something that might need to go downtown where a majority of people live that are on the council, gets done in a year or two. And it's been that way for as long as I can remember. 31 years. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let me ask you this. I know that we always seem to think there's data as a basis for looking at the maps that we're creating to try and make sure there's appropriate proportional representation and right now we're about half-way through the decade, since it was done back in 2010, we're now at 2015. Was any effort made to obtain new population data, to make certain that when it came to apportioning population through within the districts, that they came as close as possible to being equal in size. It's my understanding now that some of the districts are are within say a five percent deviation of each other, with what the new maps say might be a deviation of up to about 9.5 percent. If you can help me with that, or perhaps staff might need to help with that question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think staff should maybe answer that question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is Erica, or who would it be? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you have an answer, then tell them we don't have an answer. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There really isn't an answer, Senator McKissick. We have the 2010 census data and the census is only done once every ten years, so short of conducting another census, there's really no way to get accurate data for today's population. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick, also the districts are, the way they were for a number of years, and they haven't been altered in that period of time then the same concern you have of the number of people in that district is still the same as it would be today so there really is no difference. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up if I could, for Senator Wade or Erica could help with this. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I assume that when the new population came in in 2010, that the council looked at that data and redrew districts at that time, to take into account proportionality and representation, so that the districts might fall within that 5 percent deviation that normally they strive for. Did that occur back around 2010 or shortly thereafter? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's correct. There was very little district movement of lines at that time, as far as I remember. I don't know if staff can answer that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, nothing else to add. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Now, in terms of the deviation today, what are the deviations Erica, if you know in terms of percentile? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick are you asking about the current city council district plan, or the one that is proposed by Senate Bill 36? [SPEAKER CHANGES] What I'm trying to do is contrast the two, to see how much difference there is between the two. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If I might, Mr. Chair? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes ma'am. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick. We don't have any of the current district plans for any locality automatically loaded into our database so we don't have a means to give you that data to compare it for the current plan. We do have the means to give you that data for the proposal that's before us in the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, so what would it be for this present plan then, Erica? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you
In the information that you had handed out if you will go to the 11x17 piece of paper that is in black and white that is entitled a deal vs actual population, Greensboro City Council districts, you will find the ideal population is 38,462 people for each district and then you will find the deviation from that for districts 1-7. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Could you review those Mr. Chair, if that’s okay. Could you review those numbers. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, sir. For district one, the deviation is 204 people or -204 people, underpopulated. the percentage is 0.053. For district 2 it is overpopulated by 1,833 people or for a percentage difference of 4.77. For district 3 the deviation is 889 under for a percentage of 2.31. For district 4 it is 820 people over populated for a deviation of 2.13 percent. For district 5 it is under populated by 1,333 individuals for a percentage of 3.47. For district 6 it is underpopulated by 1,872 individuals for a percentage of 4.87. For district 7 it is overpopulated by 1,642 individuals for a percentage of 4.27. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Erica. Senator Wade. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Mr. Chair. In terms of the plan that you have before us, was there a specific reason for not allowing the mayor a vote? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, ma’am. [SPEAKER CHANGES] [??] I’ve talked with several mayors that had, did not have the ability to vote except with a tie. They said it made it much easier for them to actually go out into the community, gather facts, come back and present those. They actually facilitated the discussion when you vote in as we both now, in emotional issues and you’re on one side or the other it makes it more difficult for you. If you vote on one side to go out and talk to the other side of the community, so it facilitated the mayor’s being able to bring economic development in, going out and recruiting, talking to all members of the community and it, from the mayors I’ve talked to they wouldn’t have it any other way. It put them in a leadership role in order to really go out and bring economic development in and to help the community. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, last question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I’ll make this my last question then. Would you have any objections with your plan moving forward with an amendment being made that it would be put up to a referendum for those residing in the city of Greensboro to either vote it up or to vote it down and therefore you have a true indication of the will of the people. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick I would not want to do any amendments to my bill and the reaons being there were 4 referendums in Greensboro that failed in order to do a district system. The only referendum that every passed in Greensboro was for a mayor at large and 6 at large councilmen. So the present system never passed a referendum. In fact, it failed and it was not the will of the people but the city council after a referendum within a year went into the district system. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And I won’t ask any more questions. Just a quick comment if I could, Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Quick. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Very quick. The concern I have about the plan is it’s not allowing for a public referendum to either vote it up or down. I think the public referendum would be appropriate. I know when I served on city council in Durham we had a referendum about decreasing the size, the mix of city council members and that referendum when it took place that was the change in what the plan was previously. I think a referendum is the most democratic way of doing it. Likewise, I would recommend and would suggest that there would be no reason to eliminate the mayor as being a person on council that could vote. I think the mayor being able to vote should be an essential right that that mayor would be entitled to since it’s a form of government that, you know, has worked well for so long. I think there’s a lot of people on both sides of this issue in Greensboro. I’ve heard from many people from the Greensboro community but the people I’ve heard from have overwhelmingly indicated opposition to the
And I do believe that if we could work on this some or tweak it or have people work together to look at new district lines rather than this wholesale reorganization that it would be preferable way to proceed at this time. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick, thanks for the short version. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You’re welcome. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I’ve got, yes, sir, Senator. [SPEAKER CHANGES] [??] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My concern with this bill is are we going to put ourselves in the position where we’re gonna diminish the voice of the citizens of Greensboro, and so in terms of that concern I wanted to try to understand what voice they had right now in terms of the nine members of the council if you include the mayor who actually gets to vote versus what they would have if we go to the new system. So I would ask what percentage of the positions do those citizens of Greensboro get to vote on right now in an election. You can ask for staff if you don’t know that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Staff? Senator Rabin. Senator Wade, excuse me, do you have an answer to that question or do you would like staff to respond to that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I could. There’s five districts and there’s. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m looking for percentage. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you have that coming? Okay, Mr. McCall, let’s see if we can answer Senator Clark’s question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] With regard to the current council if you include the mayor as one of the voting members, a citizen of Greensboro would be voting for 55% of the members of the council. Under the new structure in a district system they would be voting for approximately 14% directly. In an at large election under the current system each voter would be one out of a possible 208,176 voting age population. Under the proposed system, each voter would be one out of 29,739 in the district. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So effectively it sounds to me like we’re diminishing the voice of the citizens of Greensboro by moving from the current system to the new system. Is that an accurate perception? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s probably not for staff to make that decision. Senator Wade. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I would say it is not diminishing the voice of the citizens because each representative would have one vote for their district and the mayor would vote in a tie instead of the way it is now you might vote on five different people, but when it comes time to have the vote having also served on the city council, you have to make sure the five that are in within a 2 mile radius, which is a majority, are willing to vote with you, which does not give you equal representation and if you take a look at the maps that I’ve drawn with 5 people that are in a 2 mile radius, 42% do not have, of the districts do not have a current incumbent council member presiding in them now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, but there are 5 districts right now, though, correct? [SPEAKER CHANGES] 5. That’s correct. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And each of the districts did get to elect a person that is representing them regardless of where they live. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you have an answer to that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s correct. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] No questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Alright, Senator Smith. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, may I make a comment on the bill please? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, ma’am. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m having trouble understanding why we in Raleigh need to be telling the citizens in Greensboro how to construct their local government. [applause] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can I have proper decorum. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Having read a number of articles from, written in the area and from hearing from a number of residents of Greensboro, it appears to me that there’s overwhelming opposition in Greensboro to this Senate Bill 36. When I arrived in the session this year I was told that in order to get a local bill passed, you really needed to have the support of the governing body that had jurisdiction that had jurisdiction over the issue. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s not accurate. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I was told that, but that, I don’t, I know it’s not a law but that was just kind of the you really needed to come by that. Well, obviously the city council did not support that bill. At the very least I think we ought to let the citizens of Greensboro decide by referendum whether they want the changed that Senate Bill 36 would impose and for that reason I’m proposing an amendment to the bill that would allow for such a referendum and would like to offer a motion for that amendment if this is the appropriate time. I have the amendment ready. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You can send the amendment forward. Is there a copy for each member?
Okay. Sergeant at Arms would you please make sure that every member gets a copy of that referendum, then Senator Smith will have a moment to explain her amendment. We’ll have some discussion and then we’ll vote on the amendment. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, now that everybody has a comment of the amendment, briefly explain your amendment and then we can discuss it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, the amendment essentially just said that the bill itself, Sections 1-5, would become effective only if approved by a majority of the qualified voters in the city of Greensboro on a referendum. The question on the ballot would just be for or against the issue. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, members of the committee, questions, comments. Seeing none, Senator Wade, comments? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I ask that you not accept the amendment, to vote against the amendment please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, members of the committee, you have an amendment for you as set forth by Senator Smith. It’s been looked at, discussed, Senator Wade asks that it not be adopted. All in favor of the amendment please say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] All opposed nay. The nays have it. Okay, hang on, I have got Senator Ingram. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon, Senator Rucho. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Nice to see you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for facilitating such a wonderful committee meeting where we’ve had the opportunity to hear. I have a question, I have a concern about communities of interest. Who should I direct that to you or Senator Wade. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Wade. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’ll try my best. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you look at the modification of the old districts to the new districts, you’re breaking up several districts particularly in the educational, the university settings. You’re separating North Carolina A&T and Bennett College by, I believe Lee Street, and there are faculty members at UNCG or Guilford College that are separated from the student body in the population. Do you agree that community of interest is an important factor to consider when redistricting and should that be preserved? [SPEAKER CHANGES] First I would say that the maps that were drawn before you for Senate Bill 36 meet all of the federal and state requirements and they’re drawn geographically and they try the best they can to keep communities together and not split up precincts, but the problem is when you go from 5 districts to 7, of course there are gonna be a smaller amount of people in each district because you’ve made the people closer to their representative by going to a smaller amount of people or citizens in that district and you can’t keep all the precincts together and all the different communities because you’re gonna make the pie smaller so to speak, so the districts are smaller. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You had a follow up? Okay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I don’t have a follow up question. May I make a statement about the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, ma’am. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have heard overwhelming support for us to not vote for this redistricting. When I think about Greensboro, that’s a place that you and I have in common. You and I both attended school at North Carolina A&T. We had different majors, but we were at the same university and my experience with the residents of Greensboro in the 5 plus years that I lived in Greensboro, I found Greensboro to be a place where the population was educated, the population was civic minded and very capable and the population still today is very capable of deciding on their own system of government. You stated in your comments earlier that this was voted down four times by the people. I feel that we are doing a disservice to the community of Greensboro by stepping into their community and telling them how their government should be set up and I think that’s a very dangerous thing to do. I cannot support this bill because I believe in the enumerated powers of government for the state, for the federal and for the local, and this goes against what Greensboro residents want. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Senator Hise. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to move for a favorable report. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I have a motion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] To the PCS, unfavorable to. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Right. Senator Brock, you have a motion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s what I was gonna
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Members of the committee, we have Senate Bill, would the Sergeant at Arms please close that back door so we can maybe keep the noise level down, Senate Bill 181 dealing with Wake County redistricting. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Brown. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Before we get discussion I do have a technical amendment just to clean some things up that staff might could explain. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, alright, we’ll take that on right now. Technical amendment ladies and gentlemen of the committee as you know and the audience the staff found a technical error in the bill and it is being corrected with what Senator Brown is moving forward is a technical correction. Senator Brown, would you while this is being passed out explain briefly what that does or you want staff to do that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Have staff do it, please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair. This one’s actually relatively straightforward I hope. We mis-cited an existing session law and we forgot to cite an additional session law so we are correcting the cite from the chapter 172 of the laws of 1959 to make it the correct chapter 792 and we are also adding in the cite to chapter 983 of the session laws of 1981. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Members of the committee, you have the, Senator Brown’s motion for an amended motion before you. Any discussion. Seeing none, all in favor please say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Opposed nay. Ayes have it. The motion is adopted. Senator Barefoot would you instruct the discussion and then we’ll go on to the public hearing. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I’ll just give you a brief refresher from last week’s public hearing on Senate Bill 181. The purpose of this bill is to increase representation and geographic diversity on the Wake County Board of Commissioners to ensure that every Wake County voter has a voice. Currently the commission is made up of 7 members, 5 of which live within the city of Raleigh. 75% of the towns in Wake County don’t have a single representative on the County Commission. This bill gives my constituents and all Wake County residents a much needed voice within their county government. Citizens from suburban, rural communities within Wake County like my constituents in Wake Forest, Roseville, Zebulon, Garner, Wendell, work hard and contribute greatly to our tax base yet have virtually no representation on the board. That’s not right, so this bill increases representation on Wake County’s board of commissioners from 7 to 9. One of the new member districts will represent the city at large. The other new member district will represent the county communities. The bill changes the current at large election process from districts to a single member district election process to ensure geographical diversity. The bill does this by aligning the Wake County Commission districts to the already adopted Wake County School Board districts which have been upheld by the courts. The current system was developed over 30 years ago before I was even born and when Wake County’s population was roughly 300,000 residents. It requires candidates to run costly county wide campaigns from residential districts limiting the pull of those who are financially able to run. It forces our commissioners to serve almost 1 million constituents each, or more constituents than members of congress. The politicians will argue that running at large is fair and gives everyone a voice, but the most recent election proves the current system ignores our small towns and most importantly ignores the will of the people. The current system fails to give most of Wake County’s communities the power to choose their local elected officials. For example, if you [??] Commissioner Matt Kalabria represents a district that voted to elect his opponent in the 2014 election. Boosted by heavy voter turnout inside the Raleigh city limits, Mr. Kalabria won his county wide race by a wide margin, but he lost his own district by nearly 5 points and so did the people of Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina and Garner. This bill ensures that that inequity will no longer occur in our system. In fact, those opposed to increasing representation for Wake County citizens have
herald their districts as proof that everyone has a voice. But how can that be true if communities don't have the power to elect their own leaders? The fact that local districts are represented by a member the majority of it's citizens voted against proves just how flawed the current system has become. And it proves the deck is stacked against most of Wake counties communities. This is why we don't elect the legislature by popular state wide vote as some opponents by implication have suggested we do. I also represent another county Franklin county. Franklin counties population is roughly sixty thousand people. The have seven county commissioners. Five residential districts and two at large. That's what this bill seeks to do essentially. Wake county has one million people and seven at large districts. It's not just and we need to fix it. This is a local office but there is nothing local about representing one million people. Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. All right we'll open it up for public comments, Senator Barefoot then we'll ask you to come forward when the committee begins it's discussion. All right this is about senate bill one eighty one and any of the speakers I'm introducing will be discussing that particular bill. Senate bill one eighty one. We're going to go through the list that I have the same manner and if you've spoken before you'll be given an opportunity if time permits for an additional minute. But that being said, first speaker will be Perry Woods on deck Jessica Holmes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senators thank you so much for your time. Like many of you I spent the, some people play baseball but for, oh I apologize my name is Perry Woods I've spent the last twenty five years working on campaigns here in Wake county and ironically to show you how things come around in 2008 many Wake county republicans including I believe representative Stam called for at large elections of our school board. Just things come around. They took over the school board and in 2010 they paid Karen Shanahan at least twenty five thousand dollars of tax payer dollars to draw new districts. They were drawn to favor republicans for sure but they retained historical communities of reference that also corresponded with our schools. After GOP losses in their own districts last year this body hoisted upon us a partisan gerrymandering scheme that is divisive, opposed by most and has no historical bases with the excuse that the county commission had asked you to do so. In 1987 Ronald Regan himself called such schemes just like this anti democratic and un-American. Now after another lost election here we are at it again. This time no one is asking ostensibly the reason given is ensure representation of our smaller municipalities. However this bill fails that test. Last year ten of our twelve mayors of our municipalities including a couple of republicans supported change precisely because they felt ignored by the majority of our county commission. That along with county commission support of our school board gerrymandering are primary reasons why the majority lost. With this scheme the average citizen will go from seven commissioners who have to compete for their vote to two in safe districts that can ignore them. That is not more representation nor more accountability. And it's not more diversity we went from four old white guys to having young, old, men, women, black white. This scheme wastes tax payer money is an affluent to conservative principles of local control, competition and free markets. You can vote for it but hard to call yourself a conservative if you do. The right thing to do is not only defeat this bill but to belay the implementation of the changes of the school board and allow us to come together as a community and put something together for our voters to approve. Pleas do not force this anti-democratic un-American scheme upon us. Remember the gipper is watching. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Jessica Holmes to the microphone and Patty Williams on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Holmes was in a car accident last week and I believe that she's unavailable today. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Very good. Thank you. Let's go on to Patty Williams at the microphone, Brian Fitzsimmons on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon my name is Patty Williams thank you for the opportunity to speak today. A key question for any democracy is whether districts are drawn fairly so voters can exercise their constitutional rights. When we look around the globe and hear about elections that are rigged to produce an obvious outcome we often use words like tyranny to describe the government that reigns over such an unjust process. So tell me how six days after the
Senate Bill 181, this proposed redistricting looks any more undemocratic, less unfair, less tyrannical, there won’t be accused other regimes of doing. I received my notice of last Thursday’s 1PM meeting with public comment at 11:43 AM. I raced home to listen to a tiny handful of East Wake voters from Mr. Barefoot’s district wringing their hands over lack of representation on the county commission. If I were a betting person I’d bet that not a single one of these folks had reached out to any of the current commissioners. If they had truly made the effort to contact one of their elected officials we know they would’ve received a fair minded response from a dedicated public servant. Senator Barefoot says his bill would increase geographic diversity and ensure every Wake County voter has a voice. I’m not sure why the Senator believes that voters do not have a voice. Those who went to the polls saw their democracy in action and elected the people they felt would best serve the interests of our county. Moreover the proposed map runs counter to what the Senator says voters need. One district includes Garner, Fukeway, Holly Springs, Apex, Carey and part of Morrisville. Another begins at the airport, passes through Roseville, Zebulon, Windell and winds up in Garner, and why should Senators from the other 99 counties get to weigh in on how we redistrict Wake County. How is that democracy in action. Let’s call this what it really is. It’s a ruse, it’s gerrymandering. It’s divisive because it attempts to solve a nonexistent problem while exacerbating partisanship. It circumvents the democratic process. Democracy isn’t about rigging the game to win, it’s about creating a playing field that allows the best candidates to win. If there’s an honest interested in improving the ways our districts are drawn, cease debate on Senate Bill 181, pass House Bill 92. Establish a nonpartisan redistricting process and use 2020 census data from our growing county. [SPEAKER CHANGES] [??] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, okay, we’ve got Mr. Fitzsimmons up next, Dustin Ingalls on deck. Please identify yourself. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, sir. My name is Brian Fitzsimmons I’m a resident of Senate District 18 and House District 39. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to come here and talk today. I’m a small business owner in Raleigh. I come before you to ask for deliberation and consideration regarding Senate Bill 181 or rather the redistricting of the Wake County commission. If the term representation implies my involvement in electing the person who will be doing the representing, then I will go from having 7 members represent me to having 2 members. If this bill is enacted, decisions will be made by 7 people that I had not involvement in voting for or voting against. As it stands now, I can voice my most powerful opinion, that of a voter, on all 7 commissioners. This bill is aimed at increasing representation, but the facts do not back up the argument. Furthermore, the contention that one of the new member districts will represent the city and one of the new member districts will represent the county communities just isn’t true. Precinct 0901 is in Zebulon. Precinct 0606 is in Holly Springs, yet they will be represented by the same super-district that it says in this bill will represent the city. What city that is is most certainly up for debate. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you all and I encourage you all to vote against Senate Bill 181. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Dustin Ingalls to the microphone, Lynn Edmonds on Deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Hi, I’m Dustin Ingalls. I live in Nightdale. I’m represented by Senator Blue in the Senate and Representative Darren Jackson in the House. Though I live in suburban Eastern Wake County just one district over from this bill sponsor’s district, so this is an important issue to me. One of the points raised in support of creating the districts in Senate Bill 181 is that all of the current Wake County commissioners live within a 15 mile radius of the city of Raleigh, suggesting that they are unable to represent further outlying areas. But if I asked him whether he thinks Franklin County gets adequate representation in the North Carolina Senate I suspect that Senator Barefoot would say it does despite the fact that he lives in Wake County 38 miles from the Eastern most corner of rural Franklin County in that part of his district, and I would agree with him that he provides the representation the law requires for both the Wake and Franklin County parts of his district. Just as with the Wake Commissioners, it doesn’t matter which part of his district he lives in as long as he lives in it and listens to his constituents and I’m glad Senator Barefoot and all the people on the committee are here today listening to your constituents and those from other parts of the state. Senator Barefoot and others have said this bill provides more local control when in fact it does the opposite because along with drawing new district lines for Wake it would also not allow us to have any say on these lines at the ballot box until four more county commission elections have happened in the year 2022 and that to me negates any positive aspects of this bill. In the mean time
154 legislators who represent no parts of Wake county, including all of the members of this district will have a say as soon as today on how Wake county voters elect their own county commissioners, so 154 legislators who, from Haywood County to Beaufort County would get to draw lines for us and restrict our own ability to govern ourselves but we, Wake county voters, won't be able to do that for another seven years. That makes no sense, and that is the opposite of local governance. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Lynn Edmonds at the microphone, Amy Wumble on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Hello, my name is Lynn Edmonds and I live in Raleigh. I'm here in strong opposition of Senate bill 181. Wake county voters did not ask for Senate bill 181, and it is being unnecessarily rushed for a vote. The hurried manner in which this bill was introduced and is being pushed through is an example of poor governance. As a Wake county citizen, I was offended last Thursday when this bill slipped onto the agenda of a committee hearing where citizens opposed to the bill and even lawmakers on the committee were barely given one hour's notice of the hearing. Supporters of the bill were prepared and attended the hearing. One of those supporters has gone on record in a story on WRAL that she was called and told about the hearing the night before. Tactics like that by the bill sponsor show blatant disregard for process and a disrespect for voters. The majority of Wake constituents did not ask for this bill. It was not initiated by the public at large. To allow this bill to move forward without strong support from Wake county residents is wrong. Why should lawmakers from 99 other counties meddle in Wake county politics? Senate bill 181 does the opposite of what House bill 92 is trying to do. House bill 92, a nonpartisan redistricting bill, has very strong, bipartisan support. Nonpartisan redistricting is good for North Carolina and it is good for Wake county. Vote no on Senate bill 181. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Ms. Wumble at the microphone. Larry Matthews on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Amy Wumble, and thank you for the chance to speak today. I would have been here last week as well, but like others, including the commissioners themselves, I found out about the public comment less than an hour in advance. It was clear from watching the video that some supporters had been given advance notice. What is the motivation for this bill? There's not been any public outcry or community discussion in Wake county about the need for these changes. If it were such a good idea, why was it not proposed when the board of commissioners was majority Republican, and if it's such a good idea, why not implement this plan in the other 99 counties? It appears to be pure political payback for Democrats winning the elections. The districts in this bill are modeled after those you drew for the Wake county school board after your candidates lost those races. It seems tenuous at best to model districts after those that are currently still under litigation. These districts are not compact and they will result in many split precincts, which will both confuse voters and waste tax dollars. What is the endgame? You already have a super majority at the state level. Do you not want any voices that might have different ideas at the local level, and why are you meddling in our affairs? This elected body has a low approval rating. Constant gerrymandering so that your party can win is not democracy. In fact, it feels pretty unamerican to me. I really appreciate Representative Stam's support of House bill 92 to end partisan gerrymandering, but I'm puzzled to hear that he supports Senate bill 181 to redraw the county commissioner districts. This bill divides our community and will waste tax dollars at at time we should be working together to address the growth of our county. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Larry Matthews to the microphone, Johnathan Colby on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon, Senator Rucho. I'm Larry Matthews. I'm a lifelong resident of Wake county and North Carolina and been in Wake county for 44 years. SB 181 seeks to change the voting for the county commissioners to a district basis based upon the size of the county and the expense of campaigns associated. First, Wake county has 630,000, not the one million population that's being bandied about. That's a ruse. Secondly, you can spend as much money as you want on an election. An example would be $1.2 million spent in Senate district 36 in 2012. Just a little over 100,000 citizens, that's all. When looking on your website on the general assembly, I discovered the breakdown for the seven districts that are being proposed that are
School Board districts. How those voters in those districts would have been distributed in various races earlier is explained. All races that I reviewed showed ?? results. Districts 1, 2, 6 and 7 are Republican. Districts 3, 4 and 5 favored Democrats. Here's just one example of the results. All elections ?? the same results or worse. In 2008, the election between Senator Hagen and Senator Dole, Senator Hagen won a clear victory. Had a margin of under 65,000 votes. Clearly a mandate. However when you look at the districts, the seven districts, it shows that Senator Dole would have won the county. She would have led in four of the districts. Clearly, that's not democracy. It's amazing what computers will when, with voting districts, when there are partisan goals. Here we're voting on, looking at voter fraud, voter rights, and we're having this come to us right under our noses. It's the same process. I'm against it. Please vote down Senate Bill ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Jonathan Colby at the microphone. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And, I'm back. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Identify yourself, please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Jonathan Colby and I'm a life-long resident of Wake Forest. Now Wake Forest is one of the relatively smaller communities in Wake County that SB181 sponsors. ?? it has not been well represented in the Wake County Board of Commissioners. And this is the idea for better representation. It looks kind of like a sea horse to me, not necessarily a democracy but an abstract work of art like this is certainly open to personal interpretation. This is what would become of my compact and sensible Northeastern Wake County Board of Commissioners district, which I'd like to remind everyone is a residential district. Any individual that runs in that district has to live there. My new district was made from Wake Forest all the way down to Wade Avenue inside the belt line and go all the way out to 48 and include North ?? so rather than have a commissioner actually lives around the Northeastern quadrant of of Wake County as the current map dictates, the County Commissioner for my district could reside in Morrisville. The rest of Northeastern Wake County would be placed in a district that extends from parts of Raleigh in the far western end of the county and wraps all the way around to Garner. It's entirely possible and frankly likely under this proposal that not a single County Commissioner could live anywhere near northeastern Wake County, which is why we're even having this debate in the first place. In the rural communities that there is such sudden and urgent concern about, there could very well be represented by someone living in a gated golf course community that is practically in the suburbs of Durham. Similar to the way that this bill sponsor lives three tenths of a mile inside their own district, nowhere near or in any way similar to areas of eastern Wake and Franklin County. None of these things were told this bill does actually holds up in realty. It does not promote geographic diversity or increase representation in any meaningful way. What it does do is create some nonsensical districts to unnecessarily divide people and favor one party while disregarding the voice of wake county voters and intruding on the rights of local government. If you're here because you support increased representation and diversity, well you and I have something in common. But this is not how that's achieved. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Ahem. Kammie Mueller, at the microphone. ?? Kimble on deck. Introduce yourself please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. Senator Rucho, members of the committee, my name is Kammie Mueller and I've been a Wake County resident for about five years now. While that may not be very long, my North Carolina roots run very deep. My great great great great great great grandfather was a captain in the North Carolina militia and I'm here today to fight for one of the very same reasons he fought for during the Revolutionary War – taxation without representation. Over the past four months I have been deep in the trenches, building my own business. Brick by brick, dollar by dollar. This has been one of the hardest challenges of my entire life. Taxes alone have nearly smothered me out and Wake County is one of the worst offenders at over-taxation. In our current paradigm, Wake County offers no clear exhaustible path for me to rectify this. Who should I turn to, to lay out my challenges? All of them? Certainly not, as this would be a waste of both my time and of theirs. These seven individuals cannot be elected by one million voters and expect to represent the struggles and triumphs of my one in a million story. Let me be clear. I do not need a vote for one hundred percent or seven commissioners with a deluded focus on my needs. I need one commissioner to represent my needs, one hundred percent. One that has an ear for the ups and downs of my life and my start-up businesses, one that will or will not get my vote as a direct result of the work ?? they produce for the people in my specific district. And some
We all deserve to be heard, not just today on the comittee hearing but every single day on the Wake County Commission, so please, I urge you to vote yes on Senate Bill 181 for more diversity, more representation and higher accountability. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Lee Kimball microphone and John Delpi on deck. Please identify yourself. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Lee Kimball and I’m a cattle farmer in Eastern Wake County and I support this legislation as I noticed that there is no current on our electric fence. Usually that means the fence is down, there is a problem that has to be dealt with immediately so he took the front pasture and I took the back pasture. He isolated the problem on his side but we came together to fix it. That’s a simple principle of divided responsibility and combined action that can be applied to this legislation in Wake County. Now, Wake County truly has it all. We have universities, we have urban areas, rural areas, industry and business areas as well and all of these are different areas or pastures if you will. As it is, it would be impossible for any one county commissioner to intricately know how all of these area function or how to best facilitate the growth from the people within them. So, that commissioner does his best to try to help all 1 million people. When focus becomes this spread out, it becomes a recipe for omission and overlooking, so I see three reasons to support this bill. A county commissioner that lives in their district has that intricate knowledge of their people. That county commissioner has more accountability to and from the people that elected him. My final point is that every district in our county is important, different as they may be, but in a room of very powerful voices we cannot afford for even one voice to go unheard. This legislation ensures that all districts will have that voice in their county commissioner and that’s why I support this bill. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. John Delpi at the microphone, Suza Willifred on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon, my name is John Delpi. I live in Wake County in an unincorporated area between Cue Cuaverina and Holly Springs and I’m in support of Senate Bill 181. I’m not gonna make the argument based on the fact of politics or the fact that it’s political. I think the argument is foundational and it goes all the way back to the declaration of independence which I have a copy of and it talks, this talks more about how we represent our people, our voice is represented in government than anything else that’s probably been discussed today in the previous arguments and then the currently what’s going on here. I don’t feel and I don’t think if you really look at it that the individual areas within Wake County are being appropriately represented. I don’t know about diversity other than the diverse areas within the county, so I don’t wanna confuse another type of diversity, but who represents me should know where I live, should know the issues that I face and be willing to represent them within the council. I also chair, the Chairman of the Board of the Capillary Soccer League, one of the largest non-profit organizations in the state, in the country, for youth soccer. Our bylaws require that our area representatives on the board live in the area that they represent and I would like to see the same thing happen here. Thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, sir. Zousa Willifred at the microphone, Kyle Tucker on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Hi, my name is Zouza Willifred. I’m an 18 year old student. My family and I live in the North Wake Forest area. My mom, Margie Willifred, was not able to be here today because she’s been sick so she’s unable to be here herself. She felt so strongly about SB 181 that she asked that I read a brief statement on her behalf. Members of the Committee, thank you for welcoming my daughter Zousa today. I live toward the Northernmost part of the Wake County border with my husband and our five children. Because of our location, we are currently not being represented on the Wake County Commission. It is difficult to look at my five children and teach them about the importance of government accountability when the very county
To reside in is one of the worst offenders. Wake County has 1 million citizens and each district deserves its own representative so that true accountability can take place. This accountability is only possible if they answer to the people in their district rather than the impossible 1 million. Our family may only be 7 voices muffled in a sea of 1 million others, but we are certainly 7 voices that deserve adequate representation by a commissioner elected specifically to hear and act according to the challenges facing the people of our district. We need more representation and diversity. I implore you to vote yes on Senate Bill 181. The voices of the Willifred family and many others are depending on it, and speaking for myself as a young voter I ask that you vote yes to Senate Bill 181 so that my voice in our county can be heard. Thank you so much for your time and the opportunity to speak on our behalf and thank you for your work to make our voices heard. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Kyle Tucker, microphone, William E Simmons will be on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. My name is Kyle Tucker. I have lived in NW Raleigh for the last 21 years. I’m married with 3 young children and work as a financial adviser in North Hills. I came here today because I believe that local government is the best way for average citizens like myself to have a voice heard. The Wake County Commission has such an important impact on the life of my family and many families just like mine that are scattered across the county and it’s vital that all of us are properly represented. Unfortunately under the current law there is no distinction within the county to ensure that each part of the county is adequately represented by a commissioner. Also, and this is even more concerning to me, instead of focusing their time on representing their constituents, the commissioners are forced to remain in a perpetual state of fundraising so they can continue to afford to campaign across our sprawling county. This should not be the case. I urge you to vote for Bill 181 because it gives a voice back to each part of the county while still allowing for two at large seats that provide for any imbalances and it will afford the commissioners more time to do the job that they’re elected to do. As for the execution of this bill, what better way to subdivide the county than simply using the school districts which have been deeply researched and vetted and stand approved today. Thank you for the opportunity to share my comments with you and I ask that you vote today for Bill 181. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. William Simmons at the microphone, Caroline Sullivan on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman, August members of the Senate Committee, fellow citizens of Wake and North Carolina. I’m William Simmons and I live in Zebulon, NC. I’m an old country boy. I lived there and worked hard and I’m concerned that you vote no on this bill for the simple reason that it doesn’t meet the smell test. There is a sense that across our nation there’s a turning back of the clock and gerrymandering representation and everybody has the right to speak his or her mind out and I applaud people who think as such but I live out there in Zebulon. I am pleased about the representation that I’m getting and what concerns me is the timing of this. If this hadn’t had occurred some time ago, I wouldn’t be suspicious of it, but the changeover on the Board of Commission happens to be all one party and I’m not concerned by them necessarily. I was a former County Commissioner in Moore County in the 70s and that board would oscillate between democrat and republican and then, now with more county change it is all republican. They’re doing a good job and I don’t think you ought to run down there and try to change what they’re doing about representation. They’re doing a good job. This board that we have changed. The people spoke. The majority of the people in this nation has always spoken for us whether we’ve agreed with it or not. I’ve lived with majority decisions that pinch me, but I accepted them. We have a new board of commission. There’s a peaceful job being done and I support this concept that we let the majority of the people determine how our representatives will be chosen. Thank you so much. Thank you for being great Americans where we listen to everybody, but I’m asking you now to look at the righteousness of this situation. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you.
Caroline Sullivan on microphone and Betty Lou Ward on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you so much for letting me speak. My name’s Caroline Sullivan. I’m currently serving as the Vice-Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. The plan before you is not simply a redistricting plan. It doesn’t just redraw district lines. The proposal will drastically change the manner in which a county of a million citizens elect their local representatives, tasked with delivering vital services to them every day. Supporters of this bill presented that there was some sort of consensus about how we should have our county elections. I don’t know where this consensus came from. Their proposal runs contrary to ones proposed by our former board majority. In 2013 our board had a legislative agenda to, “allow citizens to vote for a majority of the Wake County Board of Education members.” The proposal was for 4 seats to be voted on county wide and 5 seats to be voted on in districts, the idea being that every voter could vote for the majority of the members of the board. The former majority was concerned that since all school board members were elected in districts, no one was looking at the decisions of the county as a whole, therefore creating inefficiencies and burdens to the taxpayers. Commissioner Tony Gurley who introduced the goal stated that it was, “important for citizens because they would have a majority of the school board looking out for their interests.” Commissioner Phil Matthews said that, “The majority of contact that he had with the citizens wanted the board of education to run at large and the feedback he received was that citizens wanted to be able to vote for the majority of members on the board.” And Commissioner Copel said that he wanted the school board to all run at large, but he could support a goal to have five members from districts and four at large. I bring this up just to show that there are differing opinions on how these districts should run. While I’m not opposed to having districts for our commission seats, I am very opposed to not allowing any participation from the local voters to weigh in on a meaningful way to support this proposal. The statement was made at the hearing last week that this bill was not about politicians but people. I wholeheartedly agree and agree that people should work together to find the solutions. Surely such a dramatic change warrants more meaningful study. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Miss Betty Lou Ward at the microphone, Richard McCray on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the Senate committee. thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to speak. I’ve been a county commissioner for a lot of years and I never really dreamed too much about trying to separate this county into such a fashion. I’ve always thought it was really a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the county to vote and to have a real opportunity to vote for the commissioners that they chose. As a result of that over a period of years I have this year, this past year I felt like that when we elected a new board even though that there were people voted out of office, I think that the people that were voted in office certainly represent a good, strong majority of our citizenry. We have four men, three women, two people of color. How much more diverse can you get than that? As far as spending money on my campaign, Senator Barefoot, the most I have ever spent on a campaign over all these past 26 years has been $25,000. I believe in going out to meet the people, to be with the people and to be able to try to secure their answer, to provide answers for them ahead of elections and so therefore I do work very hard for the young lady who spoke who does live in my district, I would advise her to give me a call or have her mother give me a call because sometimes I know that we all can get a little bit upset when things are not just as we think they should be and I truly do not believe that this bill would bring about anything in Wake County that would be positive. Thank you for voting against the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Richard McCray at the microphone, Kim Hansett on deck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Richard McCray. Thanks for allowing me to speak today. I’m here today to voice my strong opposition to Senate Bill 181. I believe the secrecy ad the speed of this bill reeks of partisan gerrymandering that’s already occurred across this state and this bill undermines the votes of a large majority of Wake County residents. All given reasons for this bill fall apart under the slightest scrutiny
And these reasons were oddly not a problem just last year. Now there are always issues to be looked at to make the democratic process stronger. This bill does not do that. There is a bill now currently that has bipartisan support for nonpartisan redistricting of North Carolina. I highly encourage the legislative to look at that and allow North Carolina to be a model of fair, competitive elections not only across this great nation but across the world. Lastly I ask you to at the very least allow Wake County voters to have a voice and not just by one senator who represents a small percentage of Wake County residents. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Kim Hatchett at the microphone and I believe Mr. Burns spoke last time so Ed Jones will be on deck. Please identify yourself. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Kim Hanchett. I’m a 33 year resident of Wake County. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. I will say, I apologize, I am reading on my small phone and unlike the youngsters here I need reading glasses though I did not brig them because I was told as early as last Friday morning that there were no more speaking slots so I didn’t not come prepared to speak. I wonder how many other people didn’t come today because they weren’t aware that you could sign up today. I’m a supporter of common cause of North Carolina, a group with strong bipartisan support of seeking voter redistricting that’s fair, transparent and deliberate. Wake County’s been seeking tremendous growth for many years. If voter districts are in need of review, it deserves to be done deliberately and with public and professional input. It’s interesting that these folks in support of, I agree with their ideals of having more local representation, however those ideals are not met in this bill as very clearly and thankfully shown by the person from Wake Forest who showed somebody on Wade Avenue could be representing this young woman and her mother from very, very north Wake Forest. Wake County’s been facing tremendous growth for many years. If we need this review let’s do it well. This bill seems very partisan to me and everyone sitting here knows that it is. Senator Barefoot who introduced it did not seem to be concerned with County Commissioner redistricting when his party was in the majority of the commission last session. Voters like me have become very cynical about governance that is fair especially given the extreme legislative redistricting that has left so many voters without a voice. Without more deliberation, this bill is simply more political gerrymandering and it will be seen that way by the majority of residents who will never have heard about it by the time this is a done deal. SB 181 does not meet the test of being fair, deliberate or transparent or representing people closer to their home. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Ed Jones. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee and Senators. We do appreciate the opportunity to be here and speak to you on behalf of this legislation. My name is Ed Jones and I am the Chairman of the Board of the Wake County Taxpayers Association. We strongly support this bill and urge your support in voting for it. The smaller outlying towns in Wake County are not being adequately represented as the present system is set up. You may know and you need to know that in the last representation the four commissioners that previously occupied the seats on the County Commission and were defeated in the election, three of those four lived outside of the city of Raleigh. Only one of them was in the city of Raleigh. In effect, what we have today is a second City Council for the city of Raleigh sitting in the chairs of the Wake County Commission with five of the members of the Wake County Commission now, at least five, probably more. I don’t know the addresses of all of them, but at least five of them being in the city of Raleigh, so we have in effect a second City Council sitting in the chairs of the Wake County Commissioners and this does not represent the far reaches of Wake County well. I urge your support for this bill and I suggest to you that if the districts are good enough for the Wake County School Board which everybody seems to support
then it's certainly good enough for the county commissioners I urge your support on this bill, thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. John Burns spoke last time, Mr. Burns you'll have another minute if you have something new to add. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Oh I certainly do Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your time thank you to all the members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to address you as a county commissioner for the county of Wake. I would like to add a couple of points that have been brought up in favor of senator Barefoot's legislation. Those who say that I cannot represent a million people seem to forget that I do in fact represent a million people. Those people elected me and my colleagues. Some people didn't vote for me. The first thing I said when I was sworn into office was I was going to make it my task make sure that those people felt represented. And I will note for the record that not a single person that has risen to tell you they feel unrepresented by me has bothered to contact me in the last four months. If they do they will get an open ear and every effort I can give to make sure their concerns are heard. That's the way representative democracy works. And I will tell the members of this committee particularly the senator that proposed this legislation to keep in mind that Wake county voted against senator Tillis. I voted against senator Tillis but when senator Tillis is in Washington he is my senator. And will deal with him in up most honor and integrity and I will treat him with deference. Because that's the way elections work when you lose you work with the winners. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Members of the committee that concludes the public portion. Senator Barefoot would you please come forward and we'll start the discussion of senate bill one eighty one within the committee. Members of the committee any comments or questions? Good to see you senator Mckissick. [SPEAKER CHANGES] See you again, thank you for officiating. You always do a good and fair balanced job. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Fair and balanced, thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] From Fox. I suppose I can ask these questions of senator Barefoot or perhaps Erika Churchill if she's able to help with some of these. And it's to look at the I guess make up of these proposed districts I guess there's seven districts and their two at large seats. To really kind of dig into this to see what the makeup would be in certain benchmark races. Just so we make sure we have this information in the record if we could. Senator Barefoot would you like to address it or would you prefer Miss Churchill address it? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Ask your questions through senator Barefoot and if he can't then we'll go to staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Senator Barefoot I mean what I've looked at and I want to you to help me with to make sure I'm not interpreting anything incorrectly. But I was looking at districts three, four, and five and if I look back to see the race between Elain Marshall and senator Burr, it looks like we have three districts there that are strongly democratic districts where the percentages they were carrying with were sixty four percent in one case about seventy five percent in one case I think in one it was not that strong it was only about fifty point one percent of the vote. But based on your knowledge would that be accurate in terms of the way these districts would have performed at that time and would that be typical of the performance characteristics of those three districts the way they're drawn today. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I'll let Miss Churchill comment as she would like but what I remind you senator Mckissick is the main point of this bill and the purpose of what we're trying to do is increase the representation on the board from seven to nine and to put the commissioners who already have to run from districts into single member districts where those voters get to choose on their members. To do that you have to have plans that are pre-approved by the fed's and the courts and all that kind of stuff. So we've instead of going through the process of drawing lines and opening up that political process we decided to just use the foundation of the school board maps which have already come through this body which have already been voted on by this body which already have been pre-cleared and which have already been upheld by the courts as the foundation for that. And what the bill says is that the county commission, they have the ability after the next census to make local decisions.
decisions that affect where those lines are drawn, and that’s not something we’ve messed with, so I think what Ms. Churchill told you earlier was that unless we have a new census, we don’t have new data to draw from, so the best maps we have are the ones most recently drawn, and those school board maps are what we’re using for this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up, Mr. Chair. Perhaps Ms. Churchill could help me with that because when I review this data, it looks like we’ve got three basic Democratic districts and four Republican districts out of the seven, and the at-large level looks like one Democrat, one Republican. Now Ms. Churchill, could you help me with that? And I’m looking specifically back to 2010 election data. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair, if I might, I believe Senator McKissick is referring to the stat packs that are in the members’ packets. The one for the numbered districts is actually entitled Stat Pack Report of 2011, or plan SL 2013-110 Wake Numbered, and those are the districts from the Wake County School Board plan that was enacted by the General Assembly in 2013 under Session Law 2013-110, and I think the three districts that Senator McKissick is referring to, if you go to the very last page of that Stat Pack, that’s where the results for the 2010 U.S. Senate race between Secretary Marshall and Senator Burr are, and it does show that in District 3, that is would have been 64.94 % Democratic vote; in District 4, it would have been 75.06; and in District 5, 50.10. And likewise on the lettered districts, which are the two at-large districts, again, on the last page, if you go to District 1, it does show 57.87 for that same race in the Democratic. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So you have that information before you, Senator McKissick, as do all members of the committee. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, and… [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up, simply this – and I’ll just make it quick because I know the meeting’s getting long and I’m sure there are others that have comments that they’d like to share. The thing that concerns me about the plan the way it is constituted at this point in time is that it seems to permanently create districts where it would be a really predictably accurately established in these districts where you know you’re going to end up with four Republicans that are assured to be elected from districts, and when it comes to the at-large race, you’re going to get an additional one, so you would end up with five Republicans at all times, and I guess the thing that I look at is that the districts that we have today, they’ve swung back and forth. Sometimes they’re Republican majority; sometimes they’re Democrat majority. One thing we know for sure today is that any individual voter can cast a vote for all seven commissioners. What we’re going to end up with is a situation where your voters in Wake county will only be able to vote for two out of the nine, and that’s deeply concerning to me because I think that the voters in wake County are smart enough to elect candidates of choice. Some years they’re going to be Democrats; some years they’re going to be Republicans. You will see that flip flop and that change as this county grows and changes and evolves, but to permanently create districts where you have almost certainty of five Republicans, four Democrats, I think is anti-democratic, so that’s what deeply concerns me. I respect Senator Barefoot. I’m certain that he brings this forth with the beliefs that there’ll be greater geographic representation, but behind that cover appears to be an agenda of also fundamentally changing the political landscape. I’d rather see everybody cast their vote each year for their candidates of choice and leave it to the will of the public. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Senator McKissick. Members - [SPEAKER CHANGES] May I make one comment? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well Senator McKissick, I know you may believe that may be anti-democratic, but in your county, Durham, all six county commissioners are elected by districts. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If I could simply address that, if I could, the way we do it over in Durham, everybody votes at-large for everyone on the county level; likewise on city council, and I served on city council for two terms. I served an at-large position. Half the districts were at-large; the other half were from districts that were residential. Very much like Wake County, you had to reside within a district, but you voted on them in their totality, so anybody who was elected, they might have resided
Within a district, but they represented everybody in Durham county, and they were more responsive, because they were not just simply responsive to the people within the district that elected them. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Anybody else have a comment, question? Yes, ma'am. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, mister chairman. If you will refer to the ideal versus actual populations for districts one and two, the new districts that you're proposing. If, if I could get a quick question and then a follow up. Which one of those districts is the at large district that you're proposing? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I can tell you but I'm not sure what you are looking at. [SPEAKER CHANGES] What chart are you talking about please? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Two districts, this one in front, where you have the ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Where it says district one and two? [SPEAKER CHANGES] District one and two, where you have a +4.9% for district one and a -4.9% for district two. So would that be a net differential of 10% in the populations of those two districts? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do we have an answer to that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Approximately? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'll try. I believe Senator Smith-Ingram is referring to the lettered districts, which are, if you look at the map that you have, they're district A and district B. The populations that are assigned to district one are 472,585 which is a 4.9% off of the ideal population. The population assigned to district two, which is lettered B is 428,408 which is also 4.9% off of the ideal population. They are two separate districts. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're plus or minus 5% within that range. Follow up? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're, you're plus or minus five off of the range, but if you're comparing, that's for the ideal, but if you're comparing those two districts to each other, it will be a net of almost 10%. If you go minus. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're off the, you're off the ideal population. Plus or minus 5%. That's how that works. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Right, but in comparing the districts, I was just wondering if we could go back and look at how the districts were drawn, because it seems like we can have a better optimization of the districts in terms of putting the population. You won't have that concern that some of the constituents have expressed with having representation that is in more, looks like an arbitrary way to draw the district. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Any comments, any additional questions. All right, Senator Hise? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister chairman. I would move for a favorable report on Senate bill 181 as amended and enrolled into a proposed committee substitute, PCS. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's, the motion is before you. Senator Blue, we gave non committee members that lived within that county an opportunity to make a, discuss it if you would like. Doesn't mean you have to, now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I understand that mister chairman. I appreciate that. We talked about it and Senator Stein and I both indicated to Senator Barefoot that since we do represent Wake county, both county and the city of Raleigh, and I represent the eastern cities that Senator Barefoot's talking about, primarily Knightdale, Garner, and some Wendell addresses. Would have been nice if we could have talked about it because I think you could accommodate the concerns of folk who want a, a representative from their specific area. We can draw an eastern Wake county district, and it ought to be a district that would include Zebulan, Knightdale, and Wendell as the foundational part of it, and a Northern Wake county district that would include Wake Forest and Rolesville as the foundational parts. Now, it just so happens for those who don’t know that a northern district and an eastern district are gonna have some of Raleigh in it since Raleigh basically goes to the Franklin county line, and it goes to the Durham county line so it, it juts out through most of these rural areas that you're talking about, so you're gonna have Raleigh residents living that same thing in the southern part. You could draw a district easily that had Fuquay and Garner, and one in Western Wake county with Apex, Marshville, and Cary. But I think that you could do it without all of these machinations that we see in this map. I agree very much that local government is the best government. In Wake county, we've been fortunate that electing people countywide. I've part of groups 20, 30 years ago that talked about it, and the chamber was very in favor of keeping it countywide, and resources in this county had
Been basically wrestled from the part of the county that's been the most prosperous, that is western Wake County and around Research Triangle Park and sent to the eastern part of the county. I believe very strongly in that and argued with the Commissioners. But in order to do that, you really do need true geographic districts so that you know specifically you're in the area, and it doesn't take that much of an effort do it. I think that it would assure people that you're being fair, and that's what democracy's all about, that you're being fair. The last point I want to make is, Mr. Chairman, because the committee probably doesn't know it. As you know, every county in the state has four Constitutional Officers, the District Attorney, the Clerk of Court, the Registrar of Deeds and the Sheriff. In Wake County, three of those four Constitutional Officers are Republican, so you don't have to do this thing to elect Republicans in this county. The Sheriff won by a much bigger margin than the County Commissioners in the last election, won by. The Clerk of Court, a brand new person in it, a Republican, won by a comfortable margin. The Registrar of Deeds did not get opposition. This county is a county that has managed to get around a lot of the problems that I hear described here today, because if you've got to talk to your neighbor you tend to generate a little bit more understanding among each other. So I would urge you to at least let the people in this county, the business community, because they have the greatest stake of anybody, the political community, the various other communities have some say-so in how their county will be run and how the commissioners are going to be elected, because you're going to leave a bad taste in people's mouths, introduce a sense of partisanship on these Constitutional Officers across this county that heretofore haven't really been that partisan. They get elected then they represent the whole county. You know, we're not some backwater place , we're pretty reasonable, pretty educated folks who can come up with solutions. I would ask you to give us a chance and give the citizens of this county the opportunity to do just that. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Thank you, Senator Barefoot? Anything else you'd like to say? Okay, we have a motion before us, members of the committee, and the motion is a favorable report for Senate Bill 181 as amended, enrolled into the PCS. Additional thoughts or questions? Seeing none, all in favor please say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES]All opposed nay. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Nay. [SPEAKER CHANGES]The aye's have it. Okay, members of the committee, thank you very much. And that being said, thank you very much for your patience and this Rendition?? Committee is over.