North Charleston residents express concerns over potential redistricting

At a city council public hearing Tuesday, residents said they are not happy with the city’s first redistricting draft.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:46 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 11:23 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Election season is still months away, but some people who live in North Charleston say they don’t want to wait until they have a ballot in front of them to make their voices heard.

At a city council public hearing Tuesday, residents said they are not happy with the city’s first redistricting draft.

Some say that based on the drafted district lines, some minority communities’ concerns might not be as well heard after they’re joined together with larger white communities, among other concerns. City officials say because redistricting is done only every decade or so, they’ve got some challenges ahead.

“The district was cut up as a minority district and it should stay a minority district,” Mayor Pro Tem Jerome Heyward said.

The first draft of the city’s redistricting map groups parts of Districts 7 and 8 together. Officials say Liberty Hill, one of the oldest Black communities in North Charleston that’s currently in District 7, would move to District 8.

Michael Brown, North Charleston councilmember District 1, says it would also connect with part of District 5, which includes Park Circle.

“It could be a good and it could be a bad thing,” Brown said. “We just don’t want the people of Liberty Hill to be forgotten about. So, we think it would kind of be fair to keep them in a district that would kind of cater to their needs.”

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says there’s more to the decision.

“The issue is it’s a declining population neighborhood,” Summey said. “And the area surrounding it, Park Circle in particularly, has completely almost doubled in population in the last 15 years.”

Additionally, many people who live in Northwood Estates and the Deer Park community in District 3 say they’re worried they will be forgotten about. Rivers Avenue and Greenridge Road, the main roads connecting their communities, will no longer be in their district if this draft is approved.

Brown says this would affect councilwoman Virginia Jamison, who represents that district.

“As you heard one of the gentlemen say, they’re not necessarily trying to re-learn a new councilmember,” Brown said. “Especially when they have developed a rapport and a relationship with the one they already have.”

The council says they hope to have another draft to go over within the next ten days.

Heyward says they are keeping community concerns in mind.

“I think being able to discuss and have open dialogue about what’s good and what’s bad,” Heyward said. “I think it’s a good thing. It helps us with the process.”

Summey says they hope to vote on a final redistricting map by the end of March.

At the end of the day, not everybody is going to be happy, but we’re going to do the best we can.

The city council will have their next meeting this Thursday at 7 p.m.