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Council Gives 1st Reading to Redistricting

Dorchester County Council members unanimously select Plan 7 for new council districts.

County council unanimously approved the first reading for redistricting the county in accordance with Plan 7 during Tuesday's regular meeting of council.

A second reading and public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 3 during the council's regular meeting in St. George. The third and final reading will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 during the council's regular meeting in St. George.

The plan will then be reviewed by the Department of Justice before implementation.

The council reviewed seven plans and the public had a chance to weigh in on the redistricting process at a . 

The basic guidelines for 2011 redistricting include:

  • Adhering to the Constitutional Requirement of one person, one vote (i.e., mathematically equal districts) 
  • Adhering to state law of population variance under 10 percent
  • Adhering to the 1965 Voting Rights Act as amended 
  • Keeping parts of districts are contiguous 
  • Respecting communities of interest 
  • Attempting to maintain constituent consistency 
  • Avoiding splitting voting precincts 
  • Soliciting public input

The biggest changes over other plans in Plan 7 are in the Ashley Phosphate and Westcott areas.

During the Aug. 22 meeting, Council Chairman Larry Hargett expressed concern that his district, District 4, would now contain all of Westcott.

"I will have more growth in that district in one year than the rest of the council," he said. "That's where the growth is right now … If we go with Plan 7, I'm going to have all the growth and how is that fair?"

However, according to staff, Plan 7 offers the second highest minority concentration (55.104 percent) and the best population balance (2.563 percent). 

Bobby Bowers of the state Budget Control Office recommended Plan 7 during the special meeting.

"Your attorney would have to explain (to the Justice Department) why you chose a plan with a lower minority plan (if council does not choose plan 7)," Bowers said.

On Tuesday, Council Vice Chair George Bailey said he motioned to implement Plan 7 for that reason.

"I thought it would be the best that would clear the Justice Department," Bailey said. "I'm ready to move forward with redistricting." 

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