Members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners want their colleagues on the county’s legislative delegation to stick up for them in a redistricting dispute.
The all-Democratic board sent the delegation a letter Tuesday, urging the legislators to return to four-year terms for commissioners and to leave district lines where they are until after the 2020 census. The GOP-controlled legislature reconfigured the way commissioners were elected in 2015, creating two “superdistricts” that were superimposed on the existing seven districts. The move mirrored the General Assembly’s efforts to change the way the Wake County Board of Education is elected. It also put all the commissioners up for election in 2018, shortening some members’ terms.
After advocacy groups sued, a district court initially upheld the law. But then a federal appeals court overturned it, though that decision came too close to the 2016 elections to make wholesale changes, leaving Commissioner Caroline Sullivan out in the cold. She had decided not to run rather than compete against a fellow Democrat.
Supporters of the legislature’s changes have said they provide better representation for county residents who live outside Raleigh. Opponents have argued that this was a partisan move designed to bolster the GOP’s electoral fortunes in Wake.
The letter from commissioners criticizes the timing and method of the legislative action. “In Wake’s case, it involved mid-decade re-redistricting, the creation of entirely new districts, and a change to the manner of elections,” the letter says. “Any efforts by the General Assembly to manage a county’s internal affairs is bad policy and sets a dangerous precedent.”
“Why single out Wake County of the other ninety-nine?” asks Commissioner Greg Ford.
This article appeared in print with the headline “+Internal Affairs.”