The Charleston City Council isn’t ready to pull the trigger just yet on redistricting plans, but a majority of the council appears ready to support a map drawn by the city staff. The delay is likely in deference to council members who would be losing their seats or who would face a daunting challenge in getting re-elected under new boundaries.
With new 2010 U.S. Census numbers in hand, the council has to redraw district lines to account for population shifts so that each district represents roughly the same number of city residents. The task has been made more difficult as the city seeks to shore up African-American representation on the council. As district boundaries currently stand, there is only one majority African-American district.
A third redistricting hearing is planned for this Thursday. Council members will be able to work with redistricting software firsthand, but few major changes are expected. The meeting is at 9 a.m. Thursday in the third floor conference room at 75 Calhoun Street.
The latest proposal by the city’s planning department would create three strong African American districts. Councilman Dudley Gregorie, a candidate for mayor, had hoped to find a way to build a fourth African American district, but a move like that would likely dilute the strength of the three districts city planners were able to create under their plan.
Under the most recent plan:
• District 1 would include all of the city located witin Berkeley County and a much smaller portion of the peninsula, including the French Quarter and streets around Union Pier.
• District 2, 10, and 11 would shrink to make room for a new District 5 that represents all of the city located on Johns Island and the farthest reaches of the municipality in West Ashley.
• Districts 3, 4, and 7 would have strong African-American majorities.
• District 6 would be dramatically redrawn, losing many of its African American voters in West Ashley to make the minority representation stronger in some of the other districts.
• District 8 would be limited to an area of the peninsula mostly south of Calhoun Street, with a few blocks north of Calhoun around the College of Charleston.
• Districts 9 and 12 would be largely unchanged.
City planners have put together a site collecting the presentations so far.