Opposition is forming to the proposed Wake County school board redistricting maps.
As noted in today's article, Democratic school board member Anne McLaurin, Wake County Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul, the Great Schools in Wake Coalition and the League of Women Voters of Wake County are all upset about the maps.
Much of the concerns seems to revolve around McLaurin's District 5. Despite some speculation that McLaurin won't seek a second term, she said she's leaning toward running again.
District 5 has historically been concentrated inside the Raleigh Beltline. It picked up some areas south of the Beltline after the 2000 Census.
But the new proposed boundaries push District 5 further southward and westward. It's now proposed to run up to Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina while removing areas that had students attending Athens Drive and Broughton high schools.
“The redistricting that was done in my district really does change the core," McLaurin said.
McLaurin, who declined to have a private meeting with attorney Kieran Shanahan before the maps were drawn, said too much focus was placed on keeping the districts within 1 percent of each other instead preserving the geographic heart of the district.
“There are other precincts, that would give me the numbers to get within 2 to 3 percent of the goal, where there are students that attend Athens Drive,” she said. “It seems to me that that would make more sense."
Paul said they were similarly concerned about what's proposed for District 5, which he noted puts McLaurin "into a lot of precincts where she doesn’t have a prior history."
"We are concerned about the number of split precincts in her district, which indicates that there is some kind of predetermined outcome that they were looking for,” Paul said. “We are studying it right now and we are going to trying to make some decisions in the next few days.”
GSIW and the League of Women Voters both also question the splitting up of so many precincts and the boundaries for Districts 5 and 6. They say those districts should have more geographically compact boundaries.
“Anything we’re for, they’re against,” fired back GOP school board member Chris Malone. “They’re professional against-ers.”
GOP school board member John Tedesco said District 5 had to be extended southward in the effort to increase its population. He said it couldn't go northward because or westward because Districts 6 and 9, respectively, are also undersized.
Tedesco said going eastward would have complicated efforts to keep District 4 as a majority African American district. They're trying to avoid running afoul of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Both Malone and Tedesco touted how fair the new boundaries are. Malone noted that some Republicans have complained to him that the maps are too fair to the Democrats.
“I’m sure they wish the maps were more friendly to them,” Malone said of Democrats. “We have people who wish it was more favorable to us. When everyone argues, it show it’s fair."
GSIW and the League of Women Voters intend to ask the school board at tonight's public hearing to revise the maps. But Malone and Tedesco said they don't see themselves backing the change.
“At this point, anyone making an attempt to move the lines would be for gerrymandering purposes,” Tedesco said. "This is the fairest map I've ever seen."
Some things to monitor are whether they'll lobby for precinct 01-07 to be moved back to District 5. It's now slated to move to District 6. It's also the precinct where potential school board candidate Neil Riemann lives in.
Another thing to check is whether they lobby for Precinct 06-07 to be moved back to District 8. It's slated to be moved to District 5. It's also the precinct where N.C. State Professor Jim Martin, a potential opponent to Ron Margiotta, lives in.
Only two speakers registered online in advance of the hearing. You can begin registering in person at the hearing site at 4:45 p.m. There are a total of nine speakers this evening.