NAACP map challenged

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, September 8, 2011

Councilman Curtis Milteer on Wednesday denounced a redistricting map proposed by the Suffolk NAACP chapter as “political gerrymandering.”

The Nansemond-Suffolk chapter of the NAACP has presented this borough map for consideration by city officials.

Officials from Suffolk’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People arrived at the City Council meeting to present the map, which they unveiled at a press conference Tuesday. It was developed by local leaders and NAACP national redistricting experts, chapter president Lue Ward said.

The map meets the goal of three boroughs composed mostly of blacks, three composed mostly of whites and a “toss-up” borough where the numbers are about equal. It also keeps every City Council and School Board incumbent in his district — something a map proposed by the city would not do.

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“When lines are drawn to protect an individual, that’s gerrymandering,” Milteer said Wednesday. “It protects certain people, OK?”

In the city-proposed map, Councilman Leroy Bennett and School Board members Thelma Hinton and Diane Foster would be unseated, because the new districts where they currently serve would not include their homes.

But Milteer said the NAACP map was otherwise a good one and encouraged them to do it over.

“That’s the only thing I see wrong with it,” he said. “There is time to get additional maps to be reviewed.”

Ward said the chapter stood behind its proposal.

“That map that we had done is legit,” he said during a public comment session at the meeting. “That map that we had done is fair. The NAACP works for fairness for all people.”

City Council voted to forward the map to the city’s legal department to see if it meets mandated requirements. Members continued to encourage any group or individual to develop their own maps for consideration.

“We as a body need to consider any viable plan,” Councilman Michael Duman said.

“I look forward to legal looking it over,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said. “We hope to get many more.”

A public hearing on the redistricting issue is set for Oct. 5. Meanwhile, a number of community meetings on the topic are set. The schedule for them is below.

  • 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.