Why can't you simply say what you mean? I'm asking you News and Record and Allen Johnson in particular. Not to just pick on Allen as I have another article bouncing around in my mind to address Susan Ladd's butchering of the United State's Supreme Court's purpose, but either through a lack of understanding or hesitance to present facts that may defeat an agenda I found Mr. Johnson's recent editorial a bit condescending with no real details of why he was so positioned. In his article titled "Dear John, Jon and John", Mr. Johnson complements, laments and condemns Republican State House representatives John Blust, Jon Hardister and John Faircloth on each one's particular role and vote on the Greensboro City council redistricting. All of it is an embellishment of what Mr. Johnson "wishes" was so and could be taken more seriously if he had a track record of being fair and impartial or at least allowing detailed dissent equal time on his editorial page. Once again he has taken the far left wing position and attempted to pass it off as if all Greensboro residents were negatively affected by this bill. Quite frankly, the only folks that were greatly affected are incumbent City Council members. You whine that the Republicans are doing this just to get back at Democrats. You keep neglecting to point out that the Council was enlarged when Democrats had the majority, also without a referendum; pot meet kettle.
I am on record as opposing the manner in which this bill was forced on the city comparing it to school merger being forced on the county schools without a legitimate referendum. Until now I have not given much thought to the reasoning behind or the effects of this bill and what it would mean to a normal, everyday non-affiliated voter such as myself. Why the vitriol by the News and Record and almost every council member except Tony Wilkins? What is NOT being said. Here's what my bit of research revealed.
One of the complaints heard from council members about this bill from Senator Trudy Wade (I'm not a fan by the way) was that Councilman Tony Wilkins district seemed to be largely unaffected by the redistricting plan and they are correct. Why would his district be unaffected? In my opinion because it is the only district that currently is an outlier; it includes no areas that are close to the center of the city or downtown area. Upon looking at the map one of the goals of this bill appears to be to decentralize the districts. As the current map is drawn, you can drive from Greene and Spring Garden Street to Spring Garden and Fulton Street (about 1 mile) and touch Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4. This means that those four seats, all three at large members and the Mayor could possibly live within a one square mile radius; not exactly a "broad" representation of the city.
Those four districts seats are currently occupied by what most consider "liberal" in their political views. District 1 is predominately minority in demographics while 2, 3 and 4 are more diverse. However, Districts 2, 3 and 4 currently contain within their boundaries every college campus in the city limits; NC A&T and Bennett College in District 2, Greensboro College in District 3 and UNC-G and Guilford College in District 4. College students are allowed to vote in local elections and represent large ready groups of usually idealistic "liberal" voters that can be mobilized fairly quickly in the event of a political emergency. The new map reduces and centralizes the effect of these college voters to two districts and eliminates most of the downtown "overlap" among the new 8 district plan. It spreads out the representation throughout the city creating the possibility at least of breaking the liberal stranglehold on our city's leadership. Hopefully this will encourage candidates that do not have the upper class political connections to run for office and not be behind the eight-ball due to campaign money inequities that currently dominate our council.
Back to Mr. Johnson's article; he compliments Representative John Blust for "manning up, being honest and standing fast", for opposing the bill "at great risk to your own political ambitions". He likes Mr. Blust this week because he voted to oppose the bill even though he is a Republican. Did his vote cause "great risk" to his possible re-election; hardly. Mr. Blust serves State District 62 which contains 34,710 Greensboro residents including three liberal council members. Had he voted "for" the bill he could more than likely count on stronger opposition in the next election spearheaded by angry Democrats that would be out in mass to vote him out. With the passage of the bill not in doubt, Mr. Blust was free to build some good will collateral within his district. Had the bill been in doubt I have every confidence Mr. Blust would have probably saved the day.
Mr. Johnson laments Representative Jon Hardister's "switch" at the end and not sticking to his position of a referendum. Mr. Hardister has 21,897 Greensboro residents in his District 59 and we have now been redistricted into an area that is more representative of our neighborhood demographics and geography instead of being lumped into a district containing mostly "urban" in town voters that our neighborhood has very little in common with. Thank you Jon! I doubt Jamal Fox even realizes my neighborhood is in his district. Mr. Hardister will suffer very little if any voter backlash from his vote as most of his constituents are located in the county.
Mr. Johnson condemns Representative John Faircloth stating "there's no polite way to say this: In a blatant act of self-interest, you sold us out". Mr. Johnson goes on to remind us that Mr. Faircloth "fought for a referendum in his city of High Point but would not allow Greensboro the same right." Lighten up Allen. Mr. Faircloth represents District 61 that contains 344 Greensboro residents. That's three hundred forty four! Looking at the map it appears that all of his voters were relocated from Sharon Hightower's District 1 to an non-incumbent District 6. There is no doubt that they now have a district more representative of their demographics and hopefully a city councilman that will represent their needs.
State Representatives, just like City Councilmen, are elected to represent the best interests of their constituents first and foremost. Mr. Blust can argue that most of his Greensboro residents were opposed to redistricting therefore compelling him to vote no. Mr. Hardister can also argue that the redistricting positively affected his city constituents as evidenced by my reassignment to a more demographic and geographic fit. Mr. Faircloth absolutely improved the situation of his 344 Greensboro residents. As for the assertion that he somehow screwed Greensboro in lieu of his position in a similar High Point redistricting I offer this; a large portion of his constituents wanted no change without a referendum in High Point. He represents vastly more High Point citizens than Greensboro citizens. Stop trying to lock him into a philosophy when the needs of his constituents in High Point were clearly different from the best interests of his constituents in Greensboro. He is not elected to represent the agenda of the Council or the local tabloid. He improved the representation of his 344 Greensboro constituents and should not be ridiculously condemned because he didn't forsake those folks to vote along with a bunch of politicians and citizens that he does not represent including but not limited to Allen Johnson.
I applaud all three of these Representatives for voting to accurately depict the interests of the majorities in their individual districts. It's refreshing, whether you agree with the bill or not, to have representatives actually represent their district's best interests and not give in to the rantings and hurt feelings of those very, very few who are truly affected by this bill; the local incumbents and the agendist newspaper.
Once again I quote President Barrack Obama; "elections have consequences".