Letter: Hold public hearings for redistricting in Salisbury or Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Time and again, politicians in Raleigh have shown contempt for transparency and public engagement on issues that affect residents of North Carolina.

Now they are tasked with drawing our congressional and state legislative maps. We cannot afford to let them shut us out of the redistricting process, which will impact our elections, and the important issues that the legislature addresses, for the next decade. The legislature must immediately set out a full schedule of public hearings on redistricting that allows all North Carolinians the opportunity to participate both virtually and in person.

The 2011 redistricting occurred with little public input and was drafted by politicians and consultants who divided our communities based on race and partisanship. We need and want a more fair and transparent process that does not result in voter confusion and lengthy litigation. Eric Holder has labeled North Carolina as ground zero for racial justice and gerrymandering. If you are concerned about the lack of transparency join me in calling on State Reps. Harry Warren, Julia Howard and Wayne Sasser and State Sen. Carl Ford. Info can be found at ncleg.gov. Join me in asking for public hearings here in Salisbury/Rowan County and across North Carolina.

To ensure a fair and transparent process, public hearings should be held across the state both before and after redistricting maps are proposed in enough locations that all North Carolinians have a reasonable opportunity to participate. In-person hearings should be held outside of standard working hours and notices should be provided for all in-person public comment opportunities at least one week in advance. Opportunities for virtual and online comment should also be widely available throughout the process, especially in light of the ongoing dangers of COVID-19.

— Beth Foreman