Gastonia council solicits public opinion on redistricting map balance
The Municipal Council of Gastonia wishes to obtain the opinion of the public on its redistricting plans in order to balance the population growth achieved in Gastonia over the last ten years.
“We want balanced representation in all neighborhoods with this population growth we’ve seen,” said Quentin McPhatter, deputy city manager.
The city decided to create redistricting plans after seeing a 12% increase in population growth over the past ten years, according to 2020 census figures, from 71,741 to 80,411 residents.
The increase in the city’s population could mean that some neighborhoods now have an increase or decrease in the number of residents compared to other neighborhoods.
Many local governments choose to redraw their electoral districts if new census figures show their constituency populations have become significantly lopsided, McPhatter said.
The town of Gastonia partnered with the Centralina Regional Council to help with the redistricting plan.
The two entities have found that Wards 1 and 3 are now above the district’s ideal population, which would be 13,402 inhabitants per ward. Wards 4 and 6 are below the district’s ideal population.
The four wards will be redrawn to represent a population distribution that is no more or less than 5% of the ideal population per ward, according to McPhatter.
The City of Gastonia and the Regional Council of Centralina have developed a few redistricting scenarios for the public and council to review and comment on.
“The most important thing is that we want to keep the balance, keep all the wards together and have one starter per ward,” McPhatter said.
McPhatter says the Centralina Regional Council has a reputable history in providing and analyzing the data necessary for the redistricting process.
The city developed a timeline for the redistricting process that included the city approving process criteria, evaluating data to create redistricting map scenarios, and presenting those maps to city council and the public for examination and consideration.
The city approved criteria used for redistricting which include maintaining an ideal population of 13,402 in each ward, maintaining one council member per ward and existing ward boundaries where possible and more .
The city will hold a public hearing to review the redistricting plans at 6 p.m. on May 3.
McPhatter expects redistricting to be completed by summer and well ahead of the city’s election cycle in November 2023. In municipal elections, candidates must live in the neighborhood they wish to represent , but voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of ward. they live in.
Here are the members of the Gastonia City Council and the neighborhoods they represent:
- Robert Kellogg – Ward 1
- Dave Kirlin – Ward 2
- Jim Gallagher – Ward 3
- Charles Odom – Ward 4
- Jennifer Stepp – Ward 5
- Donyel Barber – Ward 6
Council members must live in the neighborhood they represent. However, all city residents vote for each candidate, regardless of the neighborhood in which they live.
Contact Janiya Winchester at 980-319-6819 or [email protected]