Lancaster city officials are one step closer to updating its political lines for the next decade.
The city’s proposed redistricting maps are now ready and will be unveiled during a public hearing July 12 at Lancaster City Hall.
That night, Lancaster City Council will also consider first reading of an ordinance to adopt the maps, which were prepared by the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs (SCRFA) Office in Columbia.
“Trying to keep neighborhoods of common interest and communities was a priority,” said City Administrator Flip Hutfles.
Hutfles met with The Lancaster News on June 30 to discuss the redistricting plan, which must be in place by Aug. 1.
That is when filing begins for the upcoming nonpartisan City Council elections in November. The seats for Lancaster mayor and city districts 1, 2, 5 are up for reelection in November.
Alston DeVenny is Lancaster mayor. Kenny Hood represents District 1, Tomonica Marsh represents District 2 and Hazel Taylor represents District 5.
“One of the initial proposals basically split Pardue Street in half and that was not going to work,” Hutfles said. “You try to balance the demographic makeup with keeping neighborhoods intact.
“Another goal is to keep your incumbents within the districts they represent. We waited because we did not know who the representative for District 2 was going to be,” he said, noting that Marsh was elected to council in May’s special election.
The redistricting process repeats itself every 10 years requiring the maps to be redrawn to assure “One person, one vote,” as well as meeting federal requirements and court decisions.
The U.S. Constitution, the state constitution and law require South Carolina to redraw the electoral lines so that people have equal representation within various levels of government as populations increase and decline.
This is done to comply with the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to protect the principle of “one person, one vote.”
The U.S. House districts, as well as the State Senate and House and county council district maps must also be redrawn.
The city of Lancaster did not redraw its voting districts 10 years ago because there was not enough of a population shift to warrant redistricting.
But that has now changed.
The latest census numbers places the city’s population at 8,460, which means the six council districts must be divided close to 1,410 residents per district to assure equal representation. The numbers are based on residents, not voters.
The number of residents can’t deviate more than 10%. The SCRFA recommends a deviation of 5%, or less.
As drawn right now, city Districts 5 and 6 are overpopulated.
By the numbers
Here is the population by city district, according to the 2020 Census, along with the deviation numbers:
• District 1 — 1,128 (under 282 residents, or 20%)
• District 2 — 1,292 (under 118 residents, or 8.37%)
• District 3 — 1,367 (under 43 residents, or 3.05%)
• District 4 — 1,319 (under 91 residents, or 6.45%)
• District 5 — 1,540 (over 130 residents, or 9.22%)
• District 6 — 1,814 (over 404 residents, or 28.65%)
The proposed maps that City Council will consider show the following populations, which comply with the target number of 1,410 residents per district.
• District 1 — 1,407
• District 2 — 1,407
• District 3 — 1,405
• District 4 — 1,406
• District 5 — 1,425
• District 6 — 1,410
Lancaster City Council now has four Blacks in its ranks — Hood, Marsh, Jackie Harris and Octavia Mungo-Jones.
But based on the proposed lines, that number is not guaranteed. The census data now shows the city’s Black population as 49.1%. Whites make up 38.8% and Hispanics make up 8.9% of the city’s population, with other races making up about 3%.
“When you look at the numbers, we are pretty much a split population,” Hutfles said.
While census data shows that current city Districts 5 and 6 are overpopulated, the proposed maps shrink both of those districts down in size.
That in turn, creates a major shift in the political borders of city districts 3 and 4. Harris represents District 3 and Mungo-Jones represents District 4.
Here is a rough overview of the proposed changes:
• District 1 — Represented by Hood, District 1 picks up Cunningham Street, Hampton Road, Sowell Street and Ballard Street along the south side of Chesterfield Avenue. It would be bordered on the east side by Kershaw Street.
• District 2 — Represented by Marsh, District 2 picks up from Willow Oak Road on the east to East Meeting Street on the north side. It also includes Pleasant Hill Street and the eastern side of Moore Street.
• District 3 — Represented by Harris, District 3 takes in the west side of Moore Street and cuts one block over to Pleasant Hill Street. It then extends northward to East Barr. It also goes across North Main Street to include the Normandy Road area near Lancaster High School and much of the Gillsbrook Road corridor to Forest Drive to the north and Plantation Road to the south.
• District 4 — Represented by Jones, District 4 expands northward to East Arch Street to Willow Oak Road and takes in all the homes to North French Street. District 4 would cross the S.C. 9 Bypass, taking in all of Clinton Avenue and a section of the North Park area from Quality Drive to North Main Street.
• District 5 — Represented by Taylor, District 5 would be bordered on the south by Woodland Drive and on the east by North Main Street. It then cuts a westward swath down University Drive to include the Gregwood subdivision. It would border the city limits on the north and west along the northwestern side of the S.C. 9 Bypass along the creek. District 5 also contains a slice of Plantation Road between Sherwood Circle to Gillsbrook Road. All of Myers Circle would shift to District 5 from District 6.
• District 6 — Represented by Ronnie Sowell, District 6 is the same, except for the inclusion of a portion of Plantation Road to Marion Sims Drive and Azalea Road. It would also be bordered to the north by the southern side of the S.C. 9 Bypass.