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The Daily Tar Heel

Congressional Redistricting Plans Opposed

A group of western N.C. residents spoke out against a proposed redistricting plan during a forum at the state legislative building.

The public forum was held by state legislators to allow citizens to express their opinions on the Democratic plan, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, and the Republican plan, sponsored Rep. William McMahan, R-Mecklenburg.

The vast majority of the room was filled with western North Carolina residents who spoke out against the Wright plan, claiming it would take away people's ability to re-elect Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C.

Steve Henson of Haywood County asked all audience members to stand if they were against the Wright plan. The majority of the audience members stood.

Henson asked for a public forum in the western part of the state if the Wright plan reveals widespread dissent in that area. "Having it in Raleigh just don't get it," Henson said.

Most of the concerns shared at the meeting related to Taylor and the lack of a condensed community district.

The plans also differ in their placement of the newly created 13th Congressional District. The Democratic plan has the district placed in northern part of the state, while the Republican plan places the district in the Triangle.

Rep. Fern Shubert, R-Union, complained that the Democratic plan locked out the voices of the Republican Party, much like the state redistricting plan passed by the N.C. House last week.

"This is the best case of gerrymandering I've ever seen," she said. "It's a work of art."

Janice Poteat of McDowell County referred to legislators as "power-hungry hypocrites" and compared voting for the Wright plan with rigging voting machines.

"If you vote for the Wright plan then you're proving without a shadow of a doubt that you're trying to usurp power from the voters," Poteat said.

But Peter Baker of Asheville said both Democrats and Republicans run for election claiming they'll redistrict to get more of their party members elected. He voiced his support for the Wright plan.

"The Democrats won the election. I'm sorry you had a hard time dealing with that," he said.

Rep. Larry Justus, R-Henderson, said the benefit of the citizens should be the priority of legislators when considering a redistricting plan.

"These districts do not belong to me, to Chairman Wright or Chairman McMahan," Justus said. "Who do they belong to? You, the people of North Carolina."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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