New districts for the Craven County Board of Commissioners will be official by the end of the month.
Commission Chariman Scott Dacey relayed the information during Monday’s commissioners meeting following last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The decision did not technically eliminate a requirement for U.S. Department of Justice preclearance of voting-related changes to ensure they do not discriminate against African-Americans, but it set aside the formula used for nearly 50 years to determine which governmental entities are subject to Justice Department scrutiny.
The new district lines, which are the first since 1988 for the Craven County Board of Commissioners, were approved by the board on a 5-2 vote down party and racial lines on March 18.
The opposing votes from both Democrats on the board, District 3 Commissioner Johnnie Sampson and District 5 Commissioner Theron McCabe, were to the final maps, which were a slightly tweaked version of an earlier map that both had supported.
Sampson did not say why he opposed the new district lines. McCabe said he had wanted the Hickman Hills area of Havelock in his new district, which would have more than tripled the number of residents.
McCabe’s district five includes all of eastern Craven County and Cherry Point, and parts of Havelock east of McCotter Boulevard.
District 6, currently represented by Lee K. Allen, includes the heart of Havelock other than the Lake Road, Greenfield Heights, Westbrooke and Tucker Creek areas.
District 7, represented by Steve Tyson, includes areas west and south of Havelock, including Tucker Creek, Hickman Hills, Carolina Pines and Stately Pines.
The board had worked much of last year with an Arlington, Va., consultant using redistricting software in an attempt to make sure the new maps protected both the intent and the letter of election laws, including the principle of one man, one vote, and the Voting Rights Act.
In reacting to the 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court last week, Dacey said, “I remain proud of the process we used to develop our new maps and believe they would have met any test of the VRA.”
The new maps are posted online at http://www.cravencounty.com/departments/elc/documents/maps/2012Commissioner.