Not since Reconstruction has a South Carolina governmental body devised an election map that would so drastically slash the number of African-American elected officials locally as the current redistricting plan being proposed by Beaufort County Council.
It appears to have been gerrymandered to protect the seats of the eight white incumbent Republican members of County Council. The revision also creates a relatively safe seat for one black council member; erases the district of the only woman and white Democratic council member; pits two popular black incumbent councilmen against each other; and dismantles the majority-black representation on the Beaufort County Board of Education.
The loss of one of three black Beaufort County councilmen translates into a 33 percent reduction of black representation on that body. And black representation on the school board stands to plummet from six of the current 11 members down 30 percent or 50 percent, depending upon the outcome of the 2012 election.
Voters don't benefit when eight incumbent school board members run against each other.
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The current redistricting plan needs to be trashed in favor of creating one far less devastating to minority voting interests. To do otherwise invites requests for intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice.
I join school board member Steven Morello in urging concerned citizens to petition County Council "to come up with a plan that does not dismantle a legitimately elected board, nor eject the majority of African-American representation. It is not too late." The councils' next vote is Sept. 12.
Northern Beaufort County Democratic Club
St. Helena Island