Councilman Johnny Sinclair, the map committee’s chairman, said he plans to take a map he showed to the other members of the City Council’s Redistricting Committee on Tuesday and submit it to the rest of the council. Another meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today, but no vote on the map is expected to be taken.
Sinclair said he wanted to have the additional committee meeting to give the committee’s other members, Council Members Anthony Coleman and Annette Lewis, time to review the proposal.
Sinclair said the full council is required to vote on the map. Though many council members attend the redistricting meetings, he will present the map to the full council on Monday. Over the next month, he plans to have two or three public open houses. Then in October and November, council will have public hearings at its meetings before voting on approving the map. It will then be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, which must review it to ensure the map has a majority black ward.
“It’s still a fairly laborious process,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair said that, under the proposed map, all current council and school board members would remain in the districts in which they live. That became an issue in September 2011 after Lewis suggested a map that moves the required minority majority district away from Coleman’s Ward 5.
Coleman pleaded guilty in June to one count of simple assault as a result of a parking lot altercation with Lewis after the meeting.
Coleman said Wednesday that he was pleased with the map Sinclair presented.
“I think that he’s done an excellent job at facilitating it,” Coleman said. “I’m pretty confident and satisfied with the direction we’re going in. I’m ready to move forward on it.”
Coleman dismissed claims by some residents of the Manget neighborhood, who asked to be taken out of his district, saying it isn’t something that residents have control over.
“If I go to a Senator or a Congressman and say ‘I don’t want to be in your district,’ they laugh at me and say, ‘It don’t work like that Councilman,’ ” Coleman said.
Sinclair said the residents were concerned that their neighborhood would be split between two districts. But he said his own neighborhood is split with Councilman Andy Morris’s Ward 4.
“There are two sides to that story,” Sinclair said. “Some would argue that by having their neighborhoods split between two city council people, you would have two city council people responsible for you. Others would say they like being one political unit.”
Mayor Steve Tumlin said the city has to be cautious about changing the makeup in Ward 5, since Coleman’s district is only planned to be 50.02 percent majority minority.
“If we move as few as eight or 10 people, it puts it below 50 percent,” Tumlin said.
The proposed map adds residents to Lewis’s Ward 1 and Sinclair’s Ward 3, each of which have lost residents in comparison to the other districts since the last redistricting was done after the 2000 Census, Tumlin said. Since the wards have grown, Ward 2 Councilman Grif Chalfant, Ward 4 Councilman Morris and Ward 7 Councilman Philip Goldstein will see the number of residents in their districts shrink.
Goldstein will see a large shift in residents mainly because his district is being switched to the east side of Franklin Road from the west side of the street, Tumlin said, though the demographics of the district are expected to remain similar.