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Proposed Charlotte City Council Redistricting Maps Give Boosts To GOP In 2 Southern Districts

Former City Attorney Mac McCarley said maps B and C preserve some balance between Republicans and Democrats.
City of Charlotte
Former City Attorney Mac McCarley said maps B and C preserve some balance between Republicans and Democrats.

The Charlotte City Council unveiled Wednesday three proposed maps that make small changes to the city’s seven council districts — and might give Republicans a boost. The city is making the changes as part of redistricting after receiving new population data from the 2020 census.

The new maps will almost certainly continue to favor Democrats in five of the seven district seats. But the main debate was how council members would shift the boundaries for City Council District 6, which is focused around the SouthPark area.

District 6 is one of two Republican-leaning seats in the city.

The district needed to grow by about 11,000 people.

Former City Attorney Mac McCarley was hired as a consultant for the process. He said he believes council members will likely focus on maps B and C of the three plans presented. Those maps add more Republican-leaning precincts to District 6.

Plan A was drawn to show the fewest possible precincts that could be moved.

McCarley said that districts 6 and 7 are not sure-fire wins for Republicans. He said the number of registered Democrats and Republicans is similar in those areas, but said the two districts have historically voted for Republicans.

Democratic Council member Malcolm Graham, who is chairing a council redistricting committee, said the maps keep Republicans together as a “community of interest.”

“We’re going out of our way to try and create a map that’s fair and balanced and takes both parties into consideration,” Graham said.

Democrats have won all four at-large seats since 2011. They hold a 9-2 advantage on council.

Leading up to Wednesday’s presentation, District 6 GOP council member Tariq Bokhari had feuded with Graham, whom he accused of planning to gerrymander his district to make it more difficult for Bokhari to win reelection in the spring.

Graham said those charges weren’t true.

Council members will hold a public hearing Oct. 5 on the new maps.

At-large council member Braxton Winston, a Democrat, blasted the proposed maps. He wrote on Twitter that the “redistricting process is a hypocritical farce. We are throwing away any semblance of an equity lens for political expediency. We’ve talk a lot about others disrupting the crescent/wedge but fail to take bold action on our own where we actually control the map.”

In mentioning the crescent/wedge, Winston was referring to the city’s low-income areas surrounding uptown and the wedge of affluent neighborhoods in south Charlotte. The proposed maps essentially keep two district seats in the wedge.

Winston had asked McCarley to draw a map that attempted to use transit corridors as a focal point for each district. Graham’s committee voted not to consider that map.

The city’s consideration of new maps comes as the Republican-controlled General Assembly is preparing to draw new maps for the state House and Senate, as well as North Carolina’s 14 members of of the U.S. House.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.