STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON AUGUST 28, 2000
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 3:00 p.m. in the Commissioners= Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chair Bill Moyer, Commissioner Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Elections Director Beverly Cunningham, Assessor Robert Baird, and County Engineer Gary Tweed.
Absent was: County Manager David E. Nicholson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order at approximately 3:05 and welcomed those in attendance, stating that the purpose of this meeting was a workshop on Redistricting.
Chairman Hawkins stated that there are many kinds of districts in Henderson County. There are:
Chairman Hawkins stated that this year we had a Federal Census which has a lot of bearing on many different things. Prior to the census this year, the Henderson County Board of Elections was already working on some realignment of voting precinct districts to look at adjusting some of the population that has to be moved through any given precinct on election day, trying to equalize that a little better.
Precinct District Alignment and Census Information
Chairman Hawkins asked Beverly Cunningham, Board of Elections Director, to update the Board on the redistricting of precincts. They have been on a freeze since about 1998, except for annexed area.
Beverly Cunningham had brought a draft phase II precinct map for the Board to review of the proposed precincts for the 2001 election (municipal) and 2002 for election that will involve the Commissioners. This map has been approved by the census, by the General Assembly and by the State.
Beverly Cunningham referenced the 1997 Precinct Review Report. The main goal of the Committee, which was nonpartisan, was to ask the Commissioners to avoid split precincts. The Board of Elections would request that the Commissioners not have the lines run with major roads because that would split some of the precincts. She hopes that the district lines will be run with the precinct lines.
There was discussion regarding the number of voters in districts. One district may have twice the number of voters as another district. The committee has asked that not only dwellings be considered in the county but also voter population so that the numbers might be more equal.
Beverly Cunningham stated that the major goal the Review Committee recommended was that there be no changes in the districts and no change in the method of electing the Board of Commissioners. The Committee felt that nothing would be served by Commissioners fighting for pieces of the pie for their district rather than carefully considering the needs of the county as a whole. Additionally they felt that the current staggered term of office was working well and that no need was demonstrated for increase or decrease of the number of county commissioners. Beverly stressed that this was not a recommendation from the Board of Elections but a recommendation of the nonpartisan committee from 1997.
Ms. Cunningham stated that nothing was done with the eastern side of the county, they will do that later. There were so many changes to make, they started with the municipalities and then the western side of the county. She stated that there are still 34 precincts.
Commissioner Moyer asked if Ms. Cunningham could show the Board the number of registered voters that are in the proposed precincts. She could not.
Information Update on Assessor=s Use of Census Data
Chairman Hawkins asked Mr. Baird to explain what data he hopes to get from this census and some of the capabilities that his equipment currently has for utilizing that data.
Mr. Baird stated that his staff can go in and pull out the number of dwellings on a similar map by precinct. By using census information they can project population but they can=t supply registered voter numbers.
Angela Beeker reminded the Board that the Statute requires that the Board base the districts on population, voter registration cannot be the basis. You have to find that there is substantial equality of population in your residency district.
Mr. Baird stated that before he and his staff can compare the registered voters, they would have to have an address because the address would give them an x and y position and then the address can be used to come up with numbers of registered voters.
Mr. Baird also stated that the first available data from the census bureau to the public will not be until April to May of 2001 and that additional information will be released ongoing through Dcember 2001. He said that he might be able to get some preliminary data earlier.
Chairman Hawkins asked Ms. Cunningham a question about numbers of voters and numbers of voting machines. She stated that currently we=re in good shape. They allow 2.5 minutes per voter for voting. The recent purchase of an additional 30 voting machines has us back in compliance.
Ms. Cunningham stated that one-stop voting will begin at their offices on October 16, 2000 and absentee voting begins September 18, 2000.
Robert Baird stated that we will have the option in the future that if someone comes in to file and give you a name and address, there will be a flag pop up on the map of exactly where that person resides. We will have the tools to be very accurate.
Chairman Hawkins asked Mr. Baird to give the Board an idea of what his department already has the capability to do and what they expect to get from the census.
Robert Baird stated that there is not a lot of census information available to them at this time, post census 2000. They have the ability to maintain data in the existing records, precinct information and census track information in the tax records. He spoke briefly about how the precinct boundaries affect communities or subdivisions. Robert stated that if he has address information that they can match, then they can populate a map by voter. One of the best indicators of population currently is registered vehicles. It is a good indicator of population. He hopes to get population numbers from the new census data. Then they need to be able to apply it, to map it out.
Following much discussion, Mr. Baird asked if there was anything further that he could supply for the Board at the present time. Chairman Hawkins stated that Mr. Baird had probably supplied all the data he currently has access to, until the new census data is available.
Commissioners= Residency Districts
Commissioner Moyer had sent the Commissioners a memo dated May 24 concerning redistricting. His basic idea for a resolution of the redistricting was to have three seats elected by residency districts and two at-large seats. His suggested plan would set forth a plan that should resolve the current confusion over district boundaries and provide opportunities for candidates for County Commissioner who might otherwise have restrictions on their ability to run. Commissioner Moyer felt strongly that the districts need to be redrawn in some fashion. Commissioner Moyer felt that now would be a good time to do the redistricting.
His plan was as follows:
1. The Board of Commissioners would continue to have 5 Commissioners.
2. There would be three Districts and one Commissioner would have to live in each of the Districts, but they would be elected County-wide.
3. There would be two at large Commissioners and each would be elected County-wide.
4. The new system would be effective starting with the 2002 election. Prior to the end of 2001, the Board would have to agree upon who would get district slots and who would get at large slots. Paragraphs 5 and 6 following provide one possible way to resolve this matter. Commissioner Moyer felt that the Board could probably agree upon it at a workshop or chose by the time in office.
5. In 2002, two district Commissioners and one at large Commissioner would run. Based on time in office, when the Plan becomes effective, Don Ward would choose first and could select a district seat or an at large seat. Marilyn Gordon would select next and would have the same possibilities. Commissioner Moyer would take what is left. This of course assumes that all three of these Commissioners decide to run again.
6. In 2004, Grady Hawkins and Charlie Messer would be running. When the redistricting becomes effective, Grady Hawkins, again based on time in office, could select a district or at large seat and Charlie Messer would get what is left.
7. District One would consist of Green River (the boundary line on the north would probably be Pinnacle Mountain Road), Zirconia, Raven Rock and the area east of I-26 and south of route #64 but including all of Edneyville, Bat Cave and Gerton.
8. District Two would consist of the area of the County north of route #64 (except for Edneyville, Bat Cave and Gerton).
9. District Three would be the area of the County south of route #64, west of I-26 and north of Pinnacle Mountain Road. If there is too large a population difference between districts Two and Three, all of Etowah could be put in one District or the other.
In Commissioner Moyer=s plan, the implementation schedule should provide that the Board have a workshop to discuss and resolve any issues as soon as the budget is finalized, that they have public comment, that they make any changes they want based on the public comment, and then take action to adopt the Plan before the end of 2000. Whatever needs done at the State level, should be accomplished by June of 2001. The Plan would be effective for the elections in 2002.
The majority of the Board agreed with Commissioner Moyer=s proposal but a number of questions were raised.
Chairman Hawkins asked if we=re looking for more people to run for office or a more selective group to run, quality versus quantity. He also raised the idea that if we=re looking for people to run, the Commissioners could set the compensation for the Commissioners so that it would attract people to run for the office.
Following much discussion, Commissioner Moyer made the motion to proceed with the study of his plan. A vote was taken and the motion passed four to one with Chairman Hawkins voting nay.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins adjourned the meeting.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board
Grady Hawkins, Chairman