The Greensboro City Council held its second work session on selecting the organizations that will appoint the members of a citizens’ redistricting committee on Tuesday, August 26.
It appeared at the end of the session on selecting the organizations to appoint members of the redistricting committee that the City Council may have reached a consensus. The citizens’ redistricting committee is scheduled to be officially appointed at the Tuesday, Aug. 31 special meeting, but some councilmembers did not support all seven of the proposed organizations. Since this City Council has no problem working behind closed doors, out of the public’s view, there could be more changes made before next Tuesday’s meeting.
When appointed, the citizens’ redistricting committee will be charged with developing a plan to redraw the five City Council districts. The City Council can accept the plan as presented or completely redraw the districts, if it so chooses. The idea was to take the politics out of redistricting, but there has been an awful lot of politics involved in establishing the organizations to appoint members to the committee.
At the end of the session on redistricting, Mayor Nancy Vaughan directed the attorney from Parker Poe, La-Deidre Matthews, to replace the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with the International Advisory Committee, which is an advisory committee to the Greensboro Human Rights Commission. So the idea of having groups outside of city government appoint members to the citizens’ redistricting committee fell by the wayside.
There was some objection to Vaughan’s proposal, but Vaughan determined a consensus was in favor of her proposed change.
The other organizations who will or have appointed members to the citizens’ redistricting committee are the League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad, the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress, the Greensboro Chapter of the NAACP, the George C. Simkins Jr. Political Action Committee, the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (TREBIC).
Both Councilmembers Sharon Hightower and Justin Outling objected to the two additions to the list that were made by Vaughan after the last meeting, the Chamber of Commerce and TREBIC. Outling said that those two organizations were involved in elections including “backing and supporting specific candidates.”
Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Nancy Hoffmann and Tammi Thurm defended the addition of those organizations noting that the business community needed representation.
Abuzuaiter said that TREBIC and the Chamber did not endorse candidates.
Hoffmann said that while TREBIC and the Chamber don’t endorse candidates, the Simkins PAC does, but that she supported including all seven organizations.
Vaughan said, “It was pretty apparent based on our last discussion that council felt that there needed to be more balance to the committee.”
Matthews said that six of the seven organizations had made their appointments, but that included the ACLU, which at least appears to no longer be one of the organizations, and Matthews wouldn’t say which of the seven original organizations had not made an appointment. But of the six members that had been appointed Matthews said three were black males, two were white females and one was a white male.
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said, “There should be an African American woman in there.”
Hightower said she didn’t like the racial makeup of the group and said, “I’m concerned that we as black women are always left out of the loop. It’s a heavy male group here.”
The City Council is made up of eight women and one man.