HIGH POINT — High Point’s elected leaders don’t have to face reelection for more than two years, but they’ll have to tackle another type of campaign sooner than this.
Based on the 2020 census results, the City Council will have to adjust the boundaries of its ward system to take into account population growth over the past decade.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years based on U.S. Census results.
The N.C. General Assembly determines voting maps for state legislative and congressional seats, while local governments draw their own districts.
Whatever system the council chooses — continuing with six wards and three at-large seats or something different — has to be adopted in time for candidate filing for city elections in 2023.
“We’re sort of fortunate that we don’t have an upcoming election any time soon, unlike some of the other jurisdictions that may be having to rush to get something done,” said Lee Burnette, the city’s director of the Planning and Development Department, which provides staff support during the redistricting process.
He said he expects the city to hire an outside consultant to advise the council on redistricting and draft new maps. He’s not sure when this will occur, because the delivery of census data has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and may not be available until September.
This is forcing many states and local jurisdictions with elections this year to consider delaying them to allow time for redistricting.
Six of the eight council members represent wards. The other two and the mayor are elected at-large.
All of the voting districts must have comparable population figures. While the city’s overall population has increased, the growth has been concentrated in Wards 5 and 6, which stretch across north High Point.
“We continue to have residential housing growth, and thus associated population growth, northward,” Burnette said. “To some degree into Davidson County, but definitely not as much as we have seen up along Skeet Club Road, and Wendover Avenue, which has been a continuous basis for 20 or 30 years now.”
He said a redistricting consultant can help the city navigate all of the technical and legal concerns around the process.
“I’ve been involved with this four different times in my career. And every time, I’m amazed at how much quicker it gets, in terms of being able to look at different districts and boundary options and that type of thing,” he said. “That’s one of the best reasons to use a consultant — because they have the tools to be able to do it, but also the legal basis for City Council to help defend its decision.”
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