Voting district change advances

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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AHOSKIE – The Ahoskie Town Council has taken the next step in its effort to redraw the boundaries between its two voting districts.

At their regularly scheduled meeting here Oct. 12, the Town Council conducted a public hearing regarding the proposed redistricting. Town Manager Kerry McDuffie presented the information about the redistricting, which became necessary due to a shift in the population residing within the Ward A and Ward B voting districts.

The results of the 2020 U.S. Census showed there were 13.6 percent more people living in Ward A than Ward B. Those numbers show the total population of Ward A at 2,591 (of which the majority – 1,526 – are white) while Ward B’s is populated by 2,255 residents (the majority of which are Black – 1,515).

In 1992, the town established two voting districts from which two Council members are elected from each district; one member elected at-large and the Mayor elected at-large. Since that time the minority representation on the Council has increased.

Since the U.S. Census numbers were released in August, Ahoskie officials have been working on plans to address the population shift between the two Wards. The town hired a Wilson-based law firm and a GIS mapping firm to assist in the redistricting process.

From that point, McDuffie presented Council with two options of moving streets from Ward A to Ward B to balance the number of residents living in each. He noted that map #2 came within four people of having the exact same number of residents. That map, which moves 14 town blocks (in the general area of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive from Memorial Drive to Richard Street) from Ward A to Ward B, results in 2,421 residents living in Ward A while Ward B will have a population of 2,425.

“[Map #2] is about as close as it can get,” noted Councilman Matt Bradley at Tuesday’s meeting.

There was no public comment about the redistricting at that meeting.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, McDuffie informed Council members that their next step is to adopt an ordinance that will amend the Town Charter as it relates to the fair and equal election of the Ahoskie Mayor and Council members.

He said that proposed ordinance will be on the Council’s agenda at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 9.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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