Light attendance continues at redistricting meetings

Published 10:41 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A trend of light attendance by the public at meetings intended to solicit their comments on the city’s proposed redistricting plan continued Tuesday night.

Only about 10 citizens showed up at the Cypress meeting, which otherwise was attended by city staff and City Council representatives Charles Brown, Charles Parr and Leroy Bennett.

Only one citizen spoke at the meeting. That was Paul Gillis, a former NAACP president, who also spoke at meetings in Chuckatuck and Holy Neck two weeks ago. He again expressed his disappointment in the proposed map.

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“This redistricting is about the Voting Rights Act, which people died and got beat upside the head for,” he said. “I’m disappointed in the leadership of the city of Suffolk.”

The meetings in Chuckatuck and Holy Neck drew similar attendance, and both had fewer than five speakers.

The city plan would draw Bennett out of the Nansemond borough he has represented for 15 years. Two School Board members also would be ousted from their districts under the city’s proposal.

At each meeting, city chief of staff Sherry Hunt presents the redistricting process, and planning director Scott Mills provides a detailed explanation of that borough’s boundaries.

Residents are encouraged to bring any ideas or even proposed maps to the meetings, City Council members have said.

Members of the Suffolk chapter of the NAACP did just that Tuesday night, turning in a plan developed by its members and national redistricting experts.

The remaining community input meetings are as follows:

  • Suffolk — Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, Sept. 8, 6 p.m.
  • Nansemond — Nansemond River High School, Sept. 13, 6 p.m.
  • Sleepy Hole — Creekside Recreational Center at Creekside Elementary School, Sept. 15, 6 p.m.
  • Whaleyville — Health & Human Services Building, Sept. 20, 6 p.m.