With the 201o census now behind us, it’s time for the Dare County Commissioners to take the long awaited step of properly aligning Commissioners and Districts.  Our present district layout in no way provides fair representation for the people of Dare County.  Both the state and federal legislatures are required to redistrict after every census to properly apportion representatives among the population.  Should Dare County do no less?  Should we not demand it?

Even a quick glance at the present district structure side by side with estimated 2009 population figures shows that many residents in the County are ill-represented. Residents of Nags Head, KDH, Colington, Kitty Hawk, Duck and Southern Shores are under-represented while residents on Roanoke Island (read Manteo) and the mainland are over-represented.

There are those who will argue that it doesn’t really matter what the districts look like since the vote is County-wide.  I beg to differ.  If it makes no difference, why have districts at all?  If it makes no difference, why not have all the Commissioners come from Colington?  Truth is, it does make a difference.  Whether they are elected county-wide or not (more on that later), where a person resides gives that person a unique perspective; where a person resides affects how they view different issues; where a person resides affects how they will vote on any given issue.  It does make a difference and anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.

There are a lot of possible ways to re-configure the districts to provide more fair representation.  Here are a couple of options  Under Plan A, we keep the district configuration the same but shift the representation to reflect the current population.  There would be one Commissioner per 8,000 residents.  This would be a simple change that would cause only a small raucous.

Plan B, the preferred option, is to change the district configuration and elect Commissioners by district.  This would give Dare County a truly representative County Commission.  While it may sound radical, does anyone really think that the residents of Nags Head have a lot in common with the residents of Colington?  Do the residents of Kitty Hawk have a lot in common with the residents in Duck?  Each community has grown into a unique place with its own particular issues, people and needs.  The residents of each of these communities deserve to be represented by someone who lives in their district.  In addition, this change has the added benefit of spectacle and drama.  We will get to see the establishment fall all over itself trying to explain why we should keep things the way they have been for the past 20 years.

Redistricting will only happen if WE THE PEOPLE demand it.  Contact the Commissioners today and demand that they appoint a bi-partisan commission to study and implement a redistricting plan in 2011.  Email the Commissioners by clicking here

Come to the next Board of Commissioners Meeting and speak up on the issue.  There is a public comment period at the beginning of each meeting where anyone can speak for up to three minutes on any subject.  The next meeting is Monday, February 21st at 5pm.  I’ll be there.  I hope you will be, too.

To read more on this topic, check out Eye On Dare’s post on the matter.

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