Wake County commissioners want legislative leaders to restore four-year terms that the state shortened, and then keep their hands off of district boundaries.
North Carolina legislators in 2015 changed the Wake commissioner district lines to match those used by the school board, adding two regional districts and reducing terms to two years.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that the district lines created by the General Assembly violated equal representation – or “one person, one vote” principles in the U.S. Constitution – and gave unfair advantages to voters in suburban districts. The new districts are gone, but all of the commissioners’ seats are up for reelection in 2018 for two-year terms.
In their letter, Wake commissioners – all Democrats – point out that the maps and election practices they want to maintain were established by a Republican-controlled Wake Board of Commissioners after the 2010 election. Commissioners say lawmakers singled them out after they won control of the board in 2014.
“Any efforts by the General Assembly to manage a county’s internal affairs is bad policy and sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter says. “Partisan targeting of Wake County runs against the wishes of its citizens and its duly elected commissioners, school board members, and other elected representatives – including a majority of its local delegation to the General Assembly.”
Commissioners argue in the letter that staggered terms offer voters more stability. They asked legislators to wait until the 2020 Census to make revisions.
“Redrawing lines now for the 2018 election risks confusing voters, sparking new litigation, and incurring additional taxpayer expense,” they wrote. “Given Wake County’s substantial growth since the 2010 census, the result would be district lines based on outdated population data for no purpose other than political gerrymandering.”