Voters in Greenville area sound off on redrawing voting maps
Greenville-area voters air their concerns about redistricting.
Hello committee members, legislators and all of my fellow citizens. My name is Laurie Yoshi Newman and I live right here in Greenville pitt County. I have heard so many compelling comments already. I hope you really have taken note of what people have taken the time to come here and say I'm here to represent democracy. I'm here with an honest intention. I'm asking you for non partisan fair and equitable voting maps. We should have a truly independent commission, a truly independent commission to draw voting maps that do not benefit either party candidate or incumbent. We need maps that don't drag through the courts to conclude they were gerrymandered districts which was obvious in the beginning. This undermines the very foundation of democracy, one person, one vote and each vote is equal. All voices are heard. I'm impressed with the comments of our mexican representative who pointed out the inequities of the process, including the mexican community being left out already. We need nap maps where neighborhoods and precincts are intact and districts are compact. The interests and needs of the community must come first in our community. We need elected officials that lift up all of our community in poor and under resourced areas, officials who will effectively address extreme climate disasters which will increase in both regularity and the destructive forces of flooding and high winds. We need laws that protect flood prone areas with from rampant development and the resources to provide rapid and effective disaster response and relief for those who are impacted by these human made disasters. We the people want to elect legislators that are loyal to our communities and not to the parties themselves. We want democracy. That is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, not politicians. Thank you. We are joined by representative rains. It was a little tank. They here. Mhm. Oh, the owner of a Freeman and then Mr Michael Schachter. Good afternoon. This is an exciting time for our state. I also drew a map last night and um, I envy you guys. It's, it's not a not an easy thing to do, but I did um, managed to get the boundaries fairly, fairly equal. Unfortunately, north Carolina's history with this process has been replete with challenges in court cases because borders have often encompassed those already in office. I would ask today that you create districts that represent all the people of north Carolina drawn with boundaries that keep county's voting precincts and communities whole as much as possible. Please be mindful of shared culture and experiences such as our hurricanes in eastern north Carolina. And in doing so, make it possible that close neighbors within a county can contact the same individuals for help. Our young people have become apathetic about government because they feel that every issue is divided. Thank you. Let's see. Let's use this process to treat people as individuals, not republicans, democrats, libertarians and so forth. And make fair maps so that every voice can be heard. Thank you. And I'm not sure if I said, I'm from craven County. Thank you. Yeah, screaming Mark zero. Yeah. And I'm a nervous, I'm nervous. Freeman 1st. I would like to thank you all for coming here this afternoon and to listen to us. I am from a small community, Falkland north Carolina, but I'm represented today. I'm representing the Delta sigma theater, Pitt county chapter. I am represented the National Council for negro women and I'm also representing Pitt County branch of the NaacP. And the message days asked me to convey to you all is to be there to listen. That's what I believe that you are doing now. But to go back and draw the maps a little differently than what you've done in the past. I'll tell you, I have looked at some of the mets and there's zigzag uh you know, it's it's crazy in a way of speaking the way they are drawn and I believe that we can do better than that. And I would just encourage you to show that diversity as you draw the map to make certain that everybody is represented, because that's what we need in a democracy. We need fair, we need fair maps if I could say that and you can scare me. So I'm gonna go sit down. Thank you. Yeah, you're just kind Yes, really? A spear. Okay, I'm Michel Schachter from uh the nonpartisan Craven Get out the vote coalition and the Tuscarora rims road community in Craven County um, having no preliminary maps to look at is a real problem. New maps that are drawn should be drawn in a nonpartisan way, not by legislators who are choosing their voters, that's what's needed. And also transparency in the map drawing. This needs to be followed by many more meetings that you know, are at different times so that people can attend them and that are also virtual so that, you know, especially at this time of covid so that people can comment. They don't have to be among other people. Um, so that we can have public input across the strait state, especially in eastern north Carolina before the final maps are approved. I'm going to be very specific about the community where I live on Tuscarora rims road. The state road 12 24 is a historical black community, but it has been split into two state house district District three and District 79. During the last redistricting, this area has absolutely no collection to the far away Beaufort County and the city of Washington. The community's connections are with other communities of color off 17 such as Rocky rim road community and even jones county with which the Tuscarora of buds. The arbitrary dividing line is uh, his bachelor's Creek, but there are members of the community starting below Clark's Road and over on Rollover Creek Road. Um the community would best be served if there was one state house district nearest to the city of New Bern. Thank you. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Oh in the afternoon. I'm grateful for this opportunity to be able to speak today after listening to the speaker in front of me. It just like he read the same have the same intention that I have also written down. It's like I could just say detailed to the speaker that just was just in front of me. I am to an opposition of having a public hearing prior to the mouth being drawn to me. It's like putting the cart before the horse. Why have a hearing not knowing where the maps are going to be drawn. I'm thinking well maybe you're getting getting input from us and then draw the map and then you will bring the maps back to us so that we can make comments and we can have ethnic problem app that will represent the public in a democracy way to I am opposition. Uh few um few hearings that are being held for instance like me, I do not drive long distance so a lot of people are not afforded the opportunity to drive to attend meetings um also to keep the municipality together so they would not be confusion within the community and that we would have pure unequal represent so that we would not have unequal representation for ethnic group the things and other things cause us to have um Insufficient representation that will harm us for the next 10 years. Thank you for your time and we do want to have an opportunity to comment once the maps of drone. Yes chris yeah, you almost got it right. It's ask you. It's like I'm used to, My name is Kelly. Ask you and I live in eight and I have two items on which I would like to comment first. We do not want any partisan gerrymandering apply to the drawing of voting district maps because it is not fair to the people of north Carolina. We want fair maps that do not have to be filed over in the court for years. We don't want them looking like a bunch of spaghetti throwing up on the wall packing Once one group into one district diminishes their voices. It deters people from voting and this isn't fair. And finally the extreme partisan gerrymandering in north Carolina has been an embarrassment as it has been in the national news so many times. Let's draw maps that we can all be proud of. The second item upon which I would like to comment is regarding municipal boundaries. I am a resident of Aden. We are a part of the 12th house district and third congressional district. We have been sliced off the bottom of pitt county of which we are an integral part Many of us work play go to school and do business in pitt county and pay taxes. We do not relate to learn or county and it is confusing to people, uh, to know where to go, who represents them and how to vote. Please draw the lines along county boundaries wherever possible. Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to speak today. Mhm sampling. Good afternoon. My name is pam Woods and I live in Craven County. I am representing not only the citizens of Craven County but Craven County branch double A. C. P. I have some things I don't have to mention, which has saved me some time. We've talked a lot about already. The time of this meeting. We are thankful to have a meeting, but the time is not really conducive for as many people to get here and the fact that there's no virtual advantage. Now, most cities, most citizens are at work at this time so they're not here to speak. So I'm gonna make some few points. I live in a residential area near Trent and News Rivers. We have a number of manufacturing plants were growing in our retail centers. Craven County is known for its tourism. We are looking for a way to make sure we continue to have affordable housing, health, healthy food, alternatives, safe areas for our Children in public schools. So that what reason I say all of these things is that we would like to make sure that our county is bound by a like county, a county that has the same sort of interests and economic problems that we have. We're trying to build and we don't really want to be with uh, Jason county. That's gonna outshine us where we can actually get representation or things working in our county because the other county has more advantage. We don't want political parties to be involved in these district. Our mapping, it is very important that we consider the type of communities, the geographic areas, what the communities are known for our working with and what is working good in those communities when drawing the lines. It's important to our citizens that would be able to be represented by the right type of interests. Thank you. Mhm. Yeah. Please hope in spain. Good afternoon everyone. My name is chris sucks. I'm 21 years old from the great city of Kingston in the north County where I live, work and love my community. So thank each of you for being here in your service to um eastern north Carolinians like myself. And I hope you take our thoughts into consideration. Kissing is a community with just over 19,000 folks. We have a population that is predominantly black and we have a history and culture that is threatened by resilience in the face of natural disasters being a focal point in the civil war or rich arts and music heritage and the best baseball, basketball and barbecue in eastern North Carolina. It is necessary that communities of interest like kinston be kept together in future legislative districts. Our community has been hit the hardest by some of our nation's greatest challenges, including hurricanes and flooding, exacerbated by the climate crisis, loss of major textiles and tobacco industries and causing poverty and population loss And being ranked the # one most economically distressed community in the entire state. So these issues, along with health issues exacerbated by COVID-19 have collectively caused reasons for us to be able to collectively organized and advocate and not want to be in split districts that serve party interests over public good. It is disappointing that the committee chose to hold only 13 hearings across the state In a state that has more than or exactly 100 beautiful counties And that the meeting times have not taken the consideration, travel time, work obligations or true accessibility. It is my request that wants to draw us a map to take place. The committee holds additional hearings across the state more than 13 and accessible times and locations to receive public input and engagement. Thank you tribune. Yeah. Okay. Oh man, Good afternoon To the chair. I wear two hats. I am an flawed Huggins Chairwoman to the peak county board of commissioners. So my first hat where is too welcome you to pick can officially to the committee and we are so glad that you chose pitt county as one of the locations to come and bring this information and give pitt county uh, citizens as well as our neighboring counties and opportunity to to participate in this process which makes good government. So if I take off that hat and become the citizen. Now, I will say that we encourage you as you are redrawing the lines that you draw districts that are compact and of course some of this have already been said, but I want to uh say it again because non compact districts confused voters. It splits community of interests and are often drawn to benefit certain voters are certain political parties. So as I said, some of this have already said, been said and I want to repeat it for your hearing and for you to really consider it when you go back to draw the lines again. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon. Mhm. Thank you. Mr Spain. EUCom best. Mr Charles went long. Good afternoon. My name is hold in Spain and the second vice chair of the Pitt county Republican Party, I would like to thank the committee. First off for organizing this public forum and allowing the citizens of Pitt county and the surrounding area a chance to voice their concerns about redistricting. I understand that the process of redistricting is complicated and then it generates very strong opinions and citizens as evident by the crowd we have here today. So I would like to encourage the committee and the General Assembly to work diligently to publish the proposed maps that they have in mind and to allow further time for the citizens of eastern north Carolina consistent across the state to comment on these proposed maps before they have voted on and decided by the general assembly. I can, I'd like to thank the committee for organizing this public event. Thank you. Yeah. Oh yeah. Now logistics have taken off mask or very difficult with glasses. Thank you for your service to our state. I appreciate you holding this public hearing regarding new voting maps that must be drawn due to the recent 2020 census. Also ask you to return the pitch county and share the maps you draw before you hold your final vote. My name is tom best. I'm a native north Carolinian and a pig county registered voter. I served a decade working with the pitt county board of elections 1st as a poll worker, then a precinct chief judge for several years and finished working as the annex chief judge. Where we handled all the problems that occurred at the precincts. I asked you to keep the precincts hole. Do not split them between candidates. It causes confusion for the voters and sometimes the poll workers themselves. I learned from my 10 years of chief judge voters are very serious when they enter the polls and many are anxious. Any unnecessary issue that can cause confusion and distrust among the voters must be mitigated or avoided altogether. A split precinct is one of those issues. I actually had a situation in my tenure where those who came in new the individual that was a poll worker that was handing out the balance and read her ballot, Came back to that paul work and said, I can't vote for the candidate that you voted for. And they lived across the street from each other. The poll worker initiated an effort to give that voter the wrong mouth to satisfy that. Unfortunately I was told and I was there and I was able to mitigate that situation. We stopped it and it didn't happen. I look forward to seeing you again in Pitt County. After the final drafts, maps are drawn. Thank you for listening and wal mart. Yeah, the sentence. Uh huh. Thank you. Senator period members of the House and Senate. I too want to welcome you Pitt County. We're so glad to have you here and we're glad that you've come to our beautiful pick community campus to be here. Um The coin of the realm in Raleigh is partisanship. It is not racial composition or compactness or communities. It is partisanship now, it's not the will of the people that the political party in power, whichever party that is and it has been the democrats at times and it's been the republicans at other times, but it's not the will of the people that the party in power should set up voting districts to consolidate that power or to perpetuate their control of the legislative process by drawing district lines primarily with a view to partisanship. I have spent most of my life as an attorney for 45 years. I've tried to promote the cause of fairness and justice, not only for my clients, but for my adversary as well. It is not fair and it is not just for our citizens that politicians seek ways to delete some voters and increase the influence of other voters by the way the district lines are drawn. As you develop the maps, I urge you to rise above politics and look for ways to take partisanship out of the picture. Please respect the will of the people and don't cast our state back into the courts for what might be years of countless litigation. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, Snow. Yeah, Marcus Thompson. Thank you sir. My name is Don Inslee, my wife Ramona insulin. I have lived in green book for 44 years. I am an 80 year old community activist this afternoon. I wish to make a brief comment about one of the fundamental rights of all citizens is related to registering and the drawing of the maps to maintain the rights of communities exist. And let me just quickly say, what is a community interest? The community of interest is the neighborhood community or group of people who have common policy concerns and would benefit from being maintained in a single district. Another way of understanding community of interest is that it is a simple way for community to tell its own story about what neighborhoods share in common and what makes this unique when compared to the surrounding communities. And let me just say so briefly, some of the things that are also important of community, of interest, safety, civic engagement, as well as honesty and equity and all those things that have been previously said. And I wish to thank you for complaining this and one last thing, it's an unfortunate situation where this was not held later this afternoon. So people, other people who could attend and give their input as well. And I wish to thank Senator Davis represented smith others on the voting there and the registry committed for lying me and that was the chair and thank you. Yeah, good afternoon, thank you so much for coming to pick county. My name is Sandy smith. I'm a resident of Pitt County, a business owner and a property owner. I'm going to do something that hasn't been done today and I'm gonna say thank you For making some huge inroads in regards to our redistricting maps, maps on the congressional side in 2018. We need to continue looking at our congressional maps to make them more reflective of our community. For example, eastern North Carolina is definitely more rule then Durham and Raleigh in places over in charlotte. We need to make sure that we are drawing these districts. So they are reflective for example, we used to have Durham in the first district and a lot of the residents here, we felt very disenfranchised because we were neglected. We feel that's an exact reason why we do not have broadband internet, Why we don't get business incentives here is because we were neglected because our leaders were focused on the urban areas and more. Okay, not really aligning with our world area. So if you could continue those that progress, we appreciate that as a community. We do want these districts to be drawn compacted. So we have we are voting for the same people and are is our neighbors are and that are not split. Um you know, a street right in half or a county and half. Things like that. Thank you again so much. God bless you all. Even martin Carl, thank you for having me. My name is Marcus Thompson, I'm a resident, longtime resident. Both martin and Pet Collins my whole life. And I've already gone on the records in other places uh saying that we need more hearings. The times of these hearings should be such, that people who work can can attend them, they should be, there should be a virtual option for safety and most importantly there should be hearings after the maps are drawn so that you can hear from the people after that. But I just wanted to take a moment and just think about the people who are here now. The people who have been speaking all of these events across the state. Why are these people here? They're here because this is a crazy issue redistricting and only happens 10 years, but people are here because they care about this issue. And for everybody that's here. There's a group of people that couldn't make it to this meaning that they do care about this issue. And so you have an opportunity. Now, do my question to you is do you really respect the people who have come to these meetings? Do you respect them? Do you, do you really represent them? Because if you do, then it will be represented in the process that you have going forward. Whether or not you care about what these people have come in here and say it and it will be reflected in the maps that you dropped North Carolina is a 5050 state. It's a purple state. So I truly believe that, you know, we've had court cases, we had democrats, jerry, mandarin, republicans, gerrymander, court cases, aren't we tired of that, Aren't you tired of that? The opportunity you have right now is to put all that stuff aside and just draw fair maps. North Carolina is a 50 50 state. As you have good people, good ideas. You will win the regardless of what party, your party will win. You don't have to jerry man. You don't have to cheat. You just have to draw their maps have good people have good ideas and we all would benefit from that. We all would benefit from that and that's what the people really want. So if you care about the people of the state and you really respect them, you will draw their maps, run good candidates and then we'll all benefit. Mhm. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Yeah. No. Mhm. Uh Good evening to echo what the previous speaker just said. Uh sometimes I believe that some members of the community should get together and purchase copies of Miriam Webster dictionaries to send to all the legislators in the house and of course, the state senate so that they can look up the meaning of equity, equality uh and basic fairness. But let me also say that drawing maps for redistricting purposes has been controversial for decades. Um we too often hear that legislators may try to score partisan advantages by supporting maps scarred and tainted by cracking and packing Germany in terms cracking, of course, means diluting voting power of the opposing party supporters across many. My minute is up already. Okay across districts packing means concentrating the opposing parties voting power in one's district, one district to reduce their voting power and others by now we know that it's illegal to redistrict in a way for race is a predominant factor. This typically means at least in north Carolina. Various other parts of the world the country that black folks and various other people of color would be relegated to certain districts. So as to dilute our vote and influence in the elections. Remember Cooper vs Harris in 2016 when the district court determined that race was the predominant factor motivating the redistricting plan and therefore that the redistricting plan was unconstitutional. Racial gerrymandering or mandarin that violated the equal protection clause. Okay. So, and also remember that this is not a good thing to do racial gerrymandering and let us send packing and cracking packing, um, and work towards a more equitable way to redistrict while respecting pluralism and racial and ethnic diversity. Thank you very much. Yeah. Good afternoon buena stories. My name is Mark Parker. I represent care. And one thing I want to say is just there to be different. We have this tradition in north Carolina. It's time to be different. We've done it the old way. It's time to do it. Another way reckoning is defined as a sentiment of an account. A bill is due. There's a bill do and the representative north Carolina have to pay that bill. We've all said the same thing. Everybody's thinking the same thing. We know the crazy uncle in this room. It's name is jerry mandarin. We don't want that crazy uncle for north Carolina anymore. Dare to be different. We all really came here to see something on that screen to talk about versus just seeing how we feel and see if, Okay, what are the options? We don't have any options right now. We don't have any information. So you're just hearing from us, we need you to be more visible in our communities, not just when it's a primary, not just when it's election time. We need true honest communication. Give me the good, give me the bad but don't belittle my intelligence. We need to change right now. North Carolina is the joke of the country. If you go all over the country, ex military. Whenever we always talk about north Carolina, we're always in the news. Everybody think that these yolks hicks whatever a day because of all the stuff that goes on, we need to make a change and the change start with you guys were ready for change. Everybody staying the same message. We are ready for change. And the only way we're gonna get the changes. You guys have to pay the bill and serious account. Thank you and gracias mhm mhm mhm Good afternoon. Representatives from the north Carolina General Assembly. We appreciate giving us this opportunity. I am mildred Atkinson council And I am a former elected officials. Served 29 years in this community 22 on this agreement. City Council and six years nine months on the school board. So my issue today is a little different. I have been a victim are being deliberately drawn out of my district when I was on the board of education And that was between 2000 12 and 2018 as a candidate at that time. My name was not on the ballot when I got ready to go vote. So therefore I lost at least three votes, my vote, my husband's walked us vote and my son Logan's vote who at the time was in Greenville. He's a diplomat. So he was here for that time, uh, at home. So I just want to say to you today, I'm representing full organizations. Vice president of the kind of Democratic women president of the pit carry check at university National Alumni Association, which covers five counties. Beaufort had green martin and pick Countess and the eastern north Carolina Regional Association of Black Social Workers who's been in this region for 46 years and being a social worker by profession, profession retired Now we know what the deal is and we want you to continue to represent us well through the street district and process. And lastly I represented being a volunteer leader Of the Pitt County four H All Stars Club. I continue to work with youth with broom with them so they can be like you one day. So thank you. My last thing is to say draw those lies fairly and get it right for the first time in north Carolina because I've been through three of these and I've been given out thank you. Is there anyone in the audience? Is there anyone in the audience who signed up to speak but maybe came in late and I missed hearing your name. Please come up to the podium and state your name. Thank you. Good afternoon. I'm Brenda. Fairfax gravel is my home. I left here in 1970 when we didn't have an opportunity to speak today To think in 2021 we're facing this issue of redistricting. I'm gonna say something that probably no one has said. I think Pitt county should be kept whole. If you look at graver boulevard to the north, There is one district. If you go south, there's another district. Pitt county should be kept hold when we go to the polls, Citizens are confused. They don't know where they're supposed to vote and who they're supposed to vote for. I also think we need one representative that we can go to for cohesiveness and speak with one voice. Thanks for being here. Thank you There. Anyone in the audience? Yeah. Here. Yeah. What? Uh huh. And the spirit. My name is bobby Weatherly. I'm a resident of Greenville and Pitt County. Uh, I am a newcomer relative to north Carolina. So I am a north Carolinian by choice and I affirm that choice today. Yeah. First and perhaps foremost in my mind, I would like to respectfully ask you guys and the ladies to draw some lines that don't pack african americans in one single district. It that violates in my heart and mind everything that the word fairness and equity means today. You've heard we, the people. I'm one of those. I'm also here because of the people that I'm privileged to serve. They tend to be marginalized, poor, suffering some conditions that are just just bad because of the color of their skin that does not need to be a part of our government and our political process at all. Clear the boundaries in the process. We beg you to be transparent and as I don't think I've heard anything this afternoon that I disagree with but a transparent process and let us see some maps before some final vote that we can then come here to comment on. Thank you very much for being here and for hearing us and I know the word stop moment. Yeah. Your name more. Good evening. Uh, my name is Ricky Heinz, a mayor pro TEM for winter ville and I just like to thank you all for coming to Centerville and just asked you to be transparent on the maps to draw as you can see today. You have a variety of people and they all bring great concerns. So please take that back and make sure that you're just transparent. Thank you. Right. Anyone else in the audience and what please? First audience. Oh, you're good afternoon everybody. My name is saying I'm a resident here and went to the north Carolina. I'm also um with black voters matter, but I'm here just representing myself. Um, I've been living in Pitt County since about 2010. This is home to me now and I saw what happened um during uh, the aftermath of President Obama's election um in 2010 and how we went through this whole fiasco, like my friend Market said earlier, like there's no reason to go through the whole process of the courts is, there's no telling how much the state actually pays when you have to go to the courts back and forth. Um The truth of the matter is if the fear is that um packing black voters, because most likely that maybe vote democrats, um so you can keep Republican majority if that's the case, that's not really true because african americans and people in general are not monolithic people, right? We all think different. Um so, so, so really I just want to encourage folks to remember um number one, just to be fair. But secondly, um after the maps has done like, let's do this again. This is a good first step. I give everyone credit. I think everyone for being here. Um last year, a few more things Pitt County currently. According to the census data, we have about a 880,000 people um within our within our county. So that means that we really should be one congressional district. Um I can say at least the last two or three times I voted there was there was different candidates for my congressional office. So it should be one congressional district, that's number one. Um and number two are probably as far as Greenville can most likely be one Senate district. Um, so the idea is to keep it compact. Keep the continent contiguity. Um, and just be fair, thank you there. The other. Yeah, I want to share a little in. Yeah. I'm going to give you a website address where you can get a lot of really good information. A lot of history. You have previous maps that the state has drawn and used over the years. Also, there is a public comment could be made at any time on the General Assembly website. And if you would go to n c leg, n c L E G dot gov. So N c l e G dot gov forward slash redistricting. So if you would go to that section of the General Assembly website, you will see every map that's ever been used over the last I think 30 years or so. Don't hold me to that. But you'll see the members of the redistricting committees for the house and the Senate. You can, there's also you can access and view all of the public hearings on the site. So they're posted about the day after. So you can see the meetings from other areas of the state. I believe when we get to the redistricting process, you'll see additional information added in a very timely manner there. So once we begin this, I would, I would encourage you to visit on a daily basis to, to look for updates. It's very informative. Ah I would just like to take a moment of personal privilege and and thank you for being here today. But more than that, I want to thank you for the manner in which you conducted yourself and shared your feelings. We we sort of joked with our sergeant at arms and our general assembly police who are here with us that we didn't really need them in eastern north Carolina. We're a little different down this way. So we'll give yourself a hand. We appreciate you being here, correct. Thanks. I know that it's been a probably a long day for some of you. We heard about some of the drives. But again, on behalf of my colleagues, thank you for being here today. Thank you for your feedback. We look forward to your continued feedback and following along on that website as this process continues. And with that I declare this meeting adjourned. Thank you. Don't Yeah, hanging in there. Okay. His mom is covered Ray on his radio story. God has great hair going down the heart. Well, that's going out across the world. I miss it. Don is right here. Yeah. Well, I, I intentionally want to say that deal. Yeah, Yeah. Thank you. I'm saying nothing. Yeah, that's not. Yeah. You got to understand. Oh yeah.