Southampton County voting lines to be redrawn

Published 10:03 am Saturday, April 2, 2011

COURTLAND—The loss of 650 inmates due to the 2009 closing of Southampton Correctional Center and 16 percent population growth in the Ivor area will mean changes to election districts in Southampton County.

The Board of Supervisors this week reviewed two options for redistricting, which must be done every 10 years after the U.S. Census to create equal electoral districts. Supervisors during their 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 25, meeting will be asked to approve one of two options for its seven districts. They will vote on the matter after a 9 a.m. public hearing.

With either option, Ivor-Berlin Supervisor Ronald West will see changes to his district, which saw the county’s greatest population increase since 2000; the district increased by 411 residents, from 2,573 to 2,984, according to the 2010 Census.

West attributes the growth to neighboring Isle of Wight County, which saw its population jump from 29,728 to 35,270 over the last 10 years.

“Isle of Wight has grown and we’re getting the spillover,” he said.

West doesn’t expect Berlin voters to be in his new district when he and the six other supervisors run for re-election in November.

“I don’t like redistricting for government reasons,” he said. “I realize it’s a necessary evil.”

County administrative assistant Susan Wright, who was on the redistricting committee, said the closing of the state prison resulted in a loss in the Drewryville District, which is represented by Supervisor Chairman Dallas Jones. His district needed 201 additional residents to meet redistricting guidelines.

“With redistricting, you look at people, not voters — every nursing home and prison,” Wright said.

Jones, who has been a supervisor for 28 years and will seek re-election, said he doesn’t expect changes in his district to hurt his chances at the polls.

“It won’t change anything,” he said.

In other districts, Boykins-Branchville needs to gain 146 residents, Carpon can gain 37, Franklin can gain 22, Jerusalem must lose 26 and Newsoms can gain 228.

Once supervisors choose an option, that option and the unchosen option will be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has 60 days to review them.

Others on the redistricting committee with Wright were Supervisors Carl Faison and Walter Young, Planning Commission member Michael Drake, county solicitor Richard Railey, registrar Leona Davis, assistant registrar Peggy Davis and information technology manger Sandi Plyler.