It’s getting close to the middle of June and nobody knows when the next Greensboro City Council will be held.
The last City Council election was 2017, and the next one one scheduled for an Oct. 5 nonpartisan primary and a Nov. 2 general election. But, because of redistricting issues, so far there is no decision on when that election will actually take place.
A bill that is supposed to straighten out city council elections statewide passed the Senate unanimously last week. Senate Bill 722 delays city council elections and sets the primary for March 8 and the general election for city councils as the date of the runoff primary for the statewide general election – a date that has not been set. Of course, for the bill to become law it still has to pass the state House and be signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The data that has been presented to the City Council indicates that Greensboro, absent this law, could legally hold the City Council election without revising the districts. According to state and federal law, when the largest district is 10 percent larger than the smallest district, according to the Census data, the districts must be redrawn before the next election. The issue statewide is that the Census data is not expected to be released until late September, long after the deadline for redistricting. Redistricting must be completed at least three days before the filing period, which in Greensboro is scheduled to open on July 26.
However, it appears that Greensboro, because it has averaged less than 1 percent growth per year since the 2010 Census, is not currently out of compliance. However, the Senate bill delays all city elections where candidates are elected from districts.
It appeared that in May, the City Council, based on the data available, was going to vote to go ahead with the election as scheduled until the NAACP came out in opposition to holding the City Council election in November. After that the City Council did an abrupt about face and now the decision appears to be out of the hands of the City Council. An earlier version of the state Senate bill left it up to city councils to decide if delaying the election was necessary, but the Senate bill that passed delays city council elections that involve districts whether or not redistricting is required.
If the state House passes the Senate version, then Greensboro’s elections will be delayed and the current City Council will stay in office for an extra four months or so.