The Opinion Shop

Lions, lambs and lawmakers: Redistricting reform bringing adversaries together

Former N&O editorial page editor Steve Ford writes for the NC Council of Churches blog on how redistricting reform is bringing ideological adversaries together:

By Steve Ford

The “peaceable kingdom,” where lions lie down with lambs amid other unlikely combos, turns out to be not so far-fetched when it comes to one of North Carolina’s most vexing policy challenges. While there are holdouts who enjoy their status as predators – or who don’t want to risk becoming prey –many conservatives and liberals agree that the state’s redistricting procedure is a mess that needs fixing.

Which group represents the lions and which the lambs? Well, let’s say that’s in the eye of the beholder.

Anyway, the outlines of a consensus spanning ideologies and parties were on display in Apex on the evening of Dec. 11. The NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform sponsored a meeting to build support for a new approach to redistricting that would defuse what has become a toxic cycle of smash-mouth partisanship. A key proponent, Apex Republican Rep. Paul Stam, was on hand to talk up House Bill 606, of which he is a lead sponsor.

Nobody would mistake Stam, the House Speaker Pro Tem, for anything less than a loyal Republican and staunch conservative. But he has been pushing for redistricting reform ever since Democrats ran the show in the General Assembly and drew congressional and legislative voting district boundaries to their liking. Since Stam clearly doesn’t want to be mistaken for a hypocrite, he’s making the same kind of arguments now that his party is in charge. That puts him in league with liberal-minded reformers appalled by how the line-drawing process has been abused.

Read the rest here.

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