Feds Reject Fayetteville Redistricting Plan
Posted June 25, 2007 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2007 6:44 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday rejected a plan to change the way City Council members are elected.
Local residents voted in February to eliminate three single-member districts from the council and replace them with three at-large districts.
Four of the existing nine City Council districts have majority minority populations, and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has to approve any change to council districts under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim informed Fayetteville's attorney Monday that the city didn't meet its burdern of proof that the proposed at-large district wouldn't negatively impact minority voting strength in the city.
"Under the proposed plan, African-American voters would have substantially less than certain prospects of electing candidates of their choice to four of the nine (council) positions," Kim wrote.
Critics of the new structure have said a shift to six single-member districts and three at-large districts would hurt minority representation. But supporters, including Mayor Tony Chavonne, said that a City Council structure of six single-member districts and three at-large districts would encourage the council to take a big-view picture of Fayetteville.
Because the at-large districts weren't approved, Fayetteville's municipal elections this fall will be held under the existing single-member district format.