Light attendance

Published 10:49 pm Monday, September 19, 2011

Sleepy Hole redistricting meeting draws five

After more than 100 people came to a community meeting last Tuesday on redistricting in the Nansemond borough, attendance was back to normal at a Thursday meeting held in Sleepy Hole.

Five citizens showed up at the meeting, and only two spoke. One was Paul Gillis, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who has spoken at every meeting so far.

He questioned why city staff prepared only one map and why no citizen input went into its development.

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“To me, it’s unheard of” not to have citizen input, he said. “The problems you may run into could have been corrected.”

Another citizen, Bonita Hicks, wondered how the election process would work after redistricting. She is an election official in the Nansemond River precinct.

“We gel very well at the Nansemond River High School as a group,” she said.

School Board member Diane Foster, who represents Sleepy Hole, attended the meeting. She would be drawn out of her borough under the city’s proposed working map.

Sleepy Hole representative Robert Barclay from the City Council also attended the meeting, as did councilmen Mike Duman and Leroy Bennett.

Bennett also would be drawn out of his Nansemond borough by the city’s map, as would School Board member Thelma Hinton.

Only one community meeting is left, and it happens tonight at 6 p.m. at the Health and Human Services building, 135 Hall Ave., which is in the Whaleyville borough.

But that won’t be the last time for citizens to make themselves heard. On Oct. 5, a public hearing will be held during the City Council meeting.

A redistricting process is required after each census to equalize the number of residents in each borough. Last’s year’s census showed significant population growth in the Nansemond, Sleepy Hole and Chuckatuck boroughs. The other boroughs grew, as well, but by smaller percentages.