Roanoke Rapids will not have to redraw its three council voting districts, according to a memo from the city manager to members of a committee appointed to study the matter.
The issue is on the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting, which convenes at 5:30 p.m. in the Lloyd Andrews City Meeting Hall on Jackson Street.
But City Manager Kelly Traynham said in the memo the verdict on not having to redraw the lines comes after findings by Allen Serkin, the executive director of the Cape Fear Council of Governments based in Wilmington.
Traynham hosted a meeting with Serkin Wednesday via Zoom to discuss his analysis of the districts as related to the results of the 2020 census. Attendees included Mayor Emery Doughtie, Mayor Pro-tem Carl Ferebee, and Councilman Wayne Smith.
“We have concluded that population equity exists among the city's current voting districts in accordance with the legal standard of no more or less than a 5 percent deviation, comparatively among the districts — not compared to prior decennial census data — and no changes are recommended to the city's voting district map,” Traynham said in the memo. “No formal action is required since per professional analysis the electoral districts have maintained population balance within the federal and state legal margin.”
In Roanoke Rapids, council members, with the exception of the mayor, are elected by district.
Suetta Scarbrough and Rex Stainback represent District 1. Wayne Smith and Sandra Bryant represent District 2. District 3 — represented by Carl Ferebee — is a one-person district.
The 2020 census shows the population of Roanoke Rapids to be 15,229, down 525 people from the 2010 census — 15,754.
In the 2000 census the city’s population was 16,957 — 1,203 people more than what the 2010 census showed, information in a previous memo shows.
The city was required to study its total population relative to the population within the city’s three electoral districts. If the results indicated a percent change that exceeded an established threshold — substantial inequality — then the district boundaries must have been modified.
The current threshold based on North Carolina-specific case law is plus or minus 5 percent.