Ward lines being redrawn

Under a proposed City Council plan to redraw city wards, several hundred Statesville residents will be moved out of wards where council seats will be elected this fall.

And several hundred others who did not expect to be voting on a council seat will be eligible to do so this fall.

If the plan receives the council's final OK - as expected at the council's July 14 meeting - the Iredell County Board of Elections will notify everyone who's affected.

The 2010 Census prompted the change when its population counts revealed a "pretty substantial imbalance" among the city's six wards, or election districts, said David Currier, a member of the city Planning Commission.

"Once we saw the breakout from the Census, we knew the City Council would need to address the makeup of the wards," Currier said. "We believe the option supported by the council addresses that imbalance while achieving the highest (population) figures for our two minority districts."

Statesville is divided into six wards. Citizens from each ward elect a City Council member every four years. This year, council elections are scheduled for Wards 1, 4 and 6. (Two other council members and the mayor are elected at large, citywide).

By law, the number of voters in each of the six wards should be as equal as possible, said Nadine Bennett of the Centralina Council of Governments, which helped the council draw the new wards.

"The 2010 Census population of Statesville is 24,532," Bennett said. "In a perfect world, each ward would have 4,089 (residents). But the city is also required to keep two 'minority majority' districts based on a 1980s federal court case.

"We took the 2010 Census information down to the block level and then moved the boundaries to adjust those populations."

The proposed election map contains six wards ranging in population from 4,268 to 3,955. Ward 3, on the city's south side, will have a population that's 61.5 percent African American. African Americans would be 52.9 percent of the residents of Ward 6, on the east side.

Bonita Eisele represents Ward 3, and Flake C. Huggins Jr. represents Ward 6.

Huggins' seat will be among the three on the ballot this fall, along with Wards 1 and 4 (held by Paula Steele and Michael Johnson, respectively). Candidates can declare their intent to run beginning at noon July25. The election is scheduled for Oct.11.

Currier said redistricting is always a delicate balancing act.

"Traditionally we have tried to keep the number of voters close in each district," he said, "but we also work very much in favor of maintaining the highest minority percentages possible in Wards 3 and 6."