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Politics

The CMS board will reconsider a map change that set off allegations of gerrymandering

The Charlotte Mecklenburg school board is scheduled to reconsider Tuesday a controversial change to its map for the board’s six single-member districts.

The proposed change would return precinct 2, which covers the Elizabeth and Cherry neighborhoods, to District 4, represented by Carol Sawyer.

Sawyer had moved the precinct to Margaret Marshall’s District 5 as part of a series of moves she made to a map created by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools staff.

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The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on returning Precinct 2 to Carol Sawyer's District 4.

The move concerned some in the precinct. Stephanie Sneed, the chair of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, lives in Elizabeth and said some in the community had questioned whether the move was “retaliatory” because Sneed had run against Sawyer in 2017. She lost that race.

Other residents of the precinct have asked that the board consider returning the precinct to Sawyer’s district.

Sawyer said the decision to move precinct 2 was part of a bigger plan to balance the population of districts after she moved two precincts to keep the town of Matthews in one precinct. She said it was an inadvertent move and has denied that she was ensuring that Sneed could not run against her in November. Marshall, whose District 5 was part of the move, said she didn't think Sawyer intended to punish Sneed and that the move was an attempt to balance district populations.

Four CMS board members asked that the switch be placed on Tuesday’s agenda: Sean Strain, Rhonda Cheek, Ruby Jones and Lenora Shipp.

In addition, some residents of the precinct have emailed board members to ask for more information about the move. Some have requested that the precinct be returned to Sawyer’s district.

Under the changes approved by the board, Sawyer’s District 4 is slightly smaller than all of the other districts, with 1.24% fewer residents than the ideal population size. Marshall’s District 5, the second-largest district, has .9% more residents than the ideal population size.

If precinct 2 is returned to Sawyer’s district, the map wouldn’t change much. Sawyer’s District 4 would have 1.09% more residents than the ideal population size, and Marshall’s district would have 1.43% too few residents.

Sneed has said she is considering running for school board again but hasn’t decided whether to run this year or in the future. After losing to Sawyer by roughly 17 percentage points in 2017, she ran for an at-large seat in 2019 and narrowly lost.

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