Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County's Board of County Commissioners will expand by two members under a controversial bill lawmakers gave final approval to on Wednesday.
Governors do not get a say on local bills or redistricting legislation, so the measure merely faces a few more administrative steps before becoming law. The final vote in the House was 66-47.
Under the rules that were in place in 2014, each county commissioner must live in a geographic district but is are elected by every voter in the county. The bill that passed Wednesday requires that commissioners garner votes only from those voters who live in their individual districts. It also create two regional districts, one representing Raleigh and the other Wake County's rural and suburban areas.
"Very few people can afford to run for county commissioner anymore," said Rep. Gary Pendleton, R-Wake, a former commissioner who said the cost of running a countywide campaign drives many away from public service.
The measure was the subject of a two-and-a-half-hour public hearing Tuesday.
Opponents of the bill say that it's a ploy by Republicans to retake control of the county board. They point out that this bill arose only after Democrats swept all seven seats, and they say that the new districts would not foster the local representation that proponents say they care about.
"If you look at the bill, you can tell there is partisan motivation," Rep. Rosa Gill, D-Wake, said.