Guilford County officials and interested county residents have seen several proposed redistricting maps for the county commissioners’ districts.
However, as of now, they haven’t seen the only map that’s likely to matter – the map in Chairman of the Board of Commissioner Skip Alston’s head. Alston, as the leader of the board’s majority party, will have an immense amount of say about the final redistricting map that the Board of Commissioners sends to the state legislature for approval – and this week Alston acknowledged that he did have his own map under construction.
“I have been working on one,” Alston said.
He made his comment right after the Guilford County Board of Commissioners’ regular evening meeting on Thursday, Oct. 7.
That map isn’t public yet.
Alston said he was giving a lot of thought to the commissioners district map that could be in effect for the next decade and he added that plenty of people were injecting ideas.
At a work session earlier in the day on Oct. 7, the Board Of Commissioners studied several maps proposed by interested parties, and, during that conversation, Alston made it a point to say that, even though the board was closed to suggestions from the public, county commissioners could still present their own maps later in the process.
He also said that will no doubt happen.
Every ten years, based on new census numbers, the county must reevaluate the borders of its districts – and some lines almost always must be redrawn – in order to maintain proportionality of representation.
It’s no secret that political parties often try to draw those lines in a way that will be favorable to their own party. Alston has said several times this year that, though the Democrats control the Board of Commissioners with a 7 to 2 majority, the redistricting map must be accepted by the Republican-led state legislature. That’s one way people can know that the end result will be fair, Alston said.
Besides, he added, the current board has a strong Democratic majority with district lines that were drawn to help Republicans do well. So, anyone who tries to draw the map based on party favoritism might be surprised.
In early November, the board will hold a hearing for public input on the new map proposals, and, by that time, the map now in Alston’s head may be on paper and on the table.
The board will no doubt pay attention to the public hearing speakers, but it’s also likely that, in the end, the final version of the county’s new district map will look a lot like the one currently under wraps between Alston’s two ears.