began the process of redrawing its internal political boundaries Thursday with a public meeting to explain redistricting.
“We’re required to do this every 10 years,” said Deputy County Attorney Greg Kamptner.
County staff cannot begin redrawing the lines until the results of the 2010 Census are available April 1.
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“When we do receive that Census data, we need to make sure that
have equal representation with a plus or minus 5 percent deviation,” said Tex Weaver, the county’s manager of geographic data services.
In early March, the
Board of Supervisors
will approve a set of guidelines that governs how the new lines must be drawn.
Federal and state rules require that each district be geographically contiguous and have clearly observable boundaries.
“Interstate 64 is a great no-brainer, because there’s no population, and it separates communities,” Weaver said. Other boundary lines include railroad lines and waterways.
In addition, the county has its own guidelines, including a directive to ensure each district has both urban and rural components. Another is that neighborhoods are not to be split, and that two incumbents should not be placed in the same magisterial district.
“We [don’t want] a situation where ultimately the member who is redistricted out of his or her old district continues to serve for the remainder of the term,” Kamptner said.
Abigail Turner of the
Samuel Miller District
questioned the legality of that guideline.
“That doesn’t appeal to me as a citizen, because that’s protecting incumbency,” Turner said. “The public should be commenting on that.”
Another of the local guidelines is to maintain six districts, and staff is suggesting that continue. In 2001, there was a failed attempt to create a seventh magisterial district, according to Kamptner.
The new district boundaries will have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice to comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Kamptner said the federal agency could take at least 60 days to approve the new lines. The schedule needs to be completed in time for the registrar to communicate the new district boundaries to voters.
Following a public hearing, the board must approve the new boundaries in early May so they can be submitted to the justice department.
This year, voters in the
districts will elect supervisors and School Board members. So far, Supervisor
Ann H. Mallek
, of the White Hall district, is the only declared candidate.