Public Comments on G'boro Redistricting at NCGA

The Redistricting Committee is meeting at NCGA, Sen Rucho is Chair.
(consider all paraphrased, not direct quote)
Sen Trudy Wade will speak for her bill, Senate Bill 36.
Her bill would re-district Greensboro city, and is non-partisan. Each district would have a smaller population, and, she said, would encourage more people to run for office and pay less to do so.
Among other things, the bill adds districts. Also changes the duties, so that the mayor only votes in case of a tie. If passed would apply to the 2015 elections.

Speakers have 2 minutes to speak and personal comments are not appropriate, keep comments to the bill itself. I won't identify most speakers.

Bill Knight, former mayor, speaks in favor of the bill. Too much concentration of power that has not changed over the years. Councilmen all seem to come from a wealthy part of town..would love to see staggered elections…3rd largest city in the state and not progressing as we should. This change will be good.

Andy Stevens. favors the bill. Lives in a area that will be annexed and wants to see more local representation…at large elections concentrates power in the hands of a few…the number of districts can be debated, but change is needed.

Julie. Pastor in G'boro. Has letter from current mayor…strongly opposes this bill, it was not requested by the town, and the council passed a resolution against it… it lacks local support… now, every voter has opportunity to vote for the majority of the council people… we already are business-minded, changing the structure will not change this… bill should have more local input… really need to have a referendum on this.

Jim: opposes bill… eliminates local option… that gives cities and towns the right to determine their own form of govt… bill prohibits the city of G'boro from altering or chaining its own form of govt… we should have the same rights as every other town in NC… denies us equal protection…

Golde: specific concern, NC A&T 's precincts would be split into 3 different districts…Bennett college community is split into 2 districts… this split is a plan to dilute the vote of the African American community… and their representation on the council.

Willie: Why Greensboro? Not another NC city so treated… have about 300,000 people… saw only 8-10 people at all town meetings on this who support this bill… should it pass it will almost guarantee it will go into litigation… as taxpayer, I don't want to pay legal fees for a bill the vast majority of our citizens don't want… if you don't throw out this bill give us the opportunity for a referendum.

Tony Wilkins, G'boro City Council: This system was twice voted down by referendum many years ago. Currently have 5 members living within a 2 mile radius of each other… believes the proposed system of 7 districts would lead to greater equity of expenditures throughout town.

Ellen: First time speaking at NCGA…against this bill… y'all don't live in G'boro… I see this as sneaky and undemocratic… read about it in the paper, no advance notice, no community conversations… no citizen input on these proposed districts.. not the republican way… now you, ncga, have more say in my city council than I do and that is not democratic… new system will limit the number of people I can vote for...
if this is right, why do you have to repeal a part of the state constitution to do it??

Emily: opposes bill, deviations more than double under new plan… districts not compact, break up communities of interest… would also break up UNCG and Guildford College…would repeal the general statute allowing G'boro to change their own government…

Tom Caruthers, city attorney: Sen Wade, we still consider you one of our own, but we disagree on this bill… city council opposes 7 districts, 5 districts have served our city well and received wide-spread support over the last 3 weeks. We question why we would lose the right of self-determination… Here to urge referendum on this issue, the right given to High Point when NCGA changed its year of election… have 2 resolutions from city council to share with you.

Darryl: Greensboro for Justice, works with young people in G'goro… hard to get youth interested in govt. when things change like this…we do not support it, if change is to come for G'boro it should come from G'boro… Sen Wade you have targeted our town for partisan reasons.. because your party lacks the votes to rule there.

Emily: letter from at large councilwoman… writing in hope you will reconsider this bill… our at large members do serve all the people of G'boro… understand local issues from all districts helps to tie it all together in the decision making process… this system has worked well for over 30 years… could not have foreseen this coming from a body that espouses less govt.

Elmer Chishom, Dist 2: current representation is closely held by one quadrant of the city…no system is perfect but must be equitable…we have a diverse history… reasonable people make laws, when the laws no longer reasonable must be changed.

Melvin: former commissioner Guildford County…NAACP branch president. Black Co. Commissioner Association… has served and cares about community…supports this bill… will be positive change, esp. for the African American community…will give opportunity to gain 1 additional seats on the council… demographics of G'boro have changed over 33 years and representation should change as well…

Ceilia: current system creates unfair representation… supports this proposal

Robby Perkins: has been council person and mayor--supports this bill…this would be a strong model of govt if setting up a new city… thinks we've gotten comfortable with what we have…feels issues not clearly defined under current system..

Thesa: has served on multiple city boards. speaks in favor of the bill… current structure concentrates representation in NW G'boro… has been consistent challenge for Af Am population to achieve goals and have needs met under current system…

Marshall Bennett: had to drive over an hour to discuss something to be done to my city… how can govt be derived by the people if decisions are made by people who do not live in my city… quotes McCrory on interference from DC… if this passes, who knows what city will be next, may yours….

Dillon Frick: Had to miss class to be here today, a Civil Liberties class… in 2012, Wade said govt is a threat .. want's to maximize the freedom of people in NC…. Bill design on request of 1 businessman is trumping the desires of the people of G'boro…the only reasoning of this bill is to limit the voice of Democrats… let G'boro determine its own future.

Tim :many things wrong with this bill… premise that we don't have adequate representation is belied by this proposed map, with wilding shaped districts…. we have not been given a voice in this… our voices have not been heard… we must have a referendum.

Chuck: former member SBOE, had chance to observe financial demands on candidates, and believe this bill reduces that demand on candidates--they can spend more time governing and less time fundraising… each district is smaller.. allowing threshold for financial pressures on candidates… I support the plan, but share concerns on elimination of local options on revising it.. suggest we give a sunset clause that would allow for the town to make its own changes after 10 years or so…

Public comments over for the day. No votes to be taken. Tuesday the 10th they will meet again and allow limited public comments so members can discuss.