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Women voters submit Sussex redistricting map

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Group's proposal would protect coastal communities



There is no doubt the lines designating Sussex County Council districts will change under the current redistricting process. Population growth on the eastern side of the county has far outpaced population growth on the western side.

While county officials work on their own map, as promised, the League of Women Voters of Sussex County has its own ideas what new council districts should look like.

The map has been submitted to county council in response to an invitation for public comment prior to council submitting its own map for public comment. County attorney Everett Moore has been charged with developing a new map for council consideration.

According to League President Catherine Ward, the league's map protects the coastal communities of interest with single districts: the Cape Region from Lewes to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach as District, 3 and the Quiet Resorts area from Indian River Inlet south to Fenwick Island as District 4. District 3 is held by Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, and District 4 is held by George Cole, R-Ocean View.

Because population in District 3 has grown to exceed the minimum allowed for representation by more than 5,000 people, the size of the district has been reduced by excluding its northern region containing Milford and Slaughter Beach areas, which would be reassigned to District 2, held by Sam Wilson, R-George-town.

THE LEAGUE IS URGING THE

PUBLIC TO ENDORSE ITS

PROPOSAL OR TO SUBMIT

THEIR OWN COMMENTS

PRIOR TO THE TUESDAY, JULY 19 DEADLINE.

The league's map also eliminates the coastal area from current District 5 held by Vance Phillips, R-Laurel. District 5 would contain the areas around Laurel, Delmar, Millsboro, Dags-boro and Selbyville.

Under the league's proposed redisricting map, District, 1 represented by Council President Mike Vincent, R-Seaford, would change to include the Bridgeville area as well as the Seaford area.

Ward said the proposal leaves all five present council members' residences in the districts they represent. "This was difficult due to the fact that three council members live west of Route 113 while most population growth was east of Route 113, making it necessary to have each of the three western districts cross Route 113 to the east," Ward said.

By law, the county must adjust its council districts following each census to equally distribute the population among the five county council districts. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 population results for Delaware, Sussex County's population increased nearly 26 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 156,638 residents to 197,145 residents.

Given those figures, each of the newly drawn districts would encompass an average of 39,458 residents, up from about 32,000 a decade ago. Each district must be within 5 percent of that average, containing no fewer than 37,458 residents and no more than 41,401 residents.

Of the current districts, three fall within that range. District 3 has grown to 44,533 while District 1 falls under that range at 32,637.

Prior to drawing its map, the league organized several experts including a retired senior executive from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, a former state legislator who has a background in redisricting, an attorney, a software expert, representatives of communities of interest and others who researched and held three public meetings and nine other meetings with civic groups to garner input.

From those efforts, Ward said, the league developed several possible redistricting maps, noting pros and cons of various approaches, and came upwith the recommended map that meets legal requirements as well as criteria established by a league re-districting committee.

The league is urging the public to endorse its proposal or to submit their own comments prior to the Tuesday, July 19 deadline.

The public can submit ideas by email to redistricting@sussex-countyde.gov or by mail. Letters should be addressed to the Clerf of the Sussex County Council, PO Box 589, Georgetown, DE 19947. Written and email correspondence will be accepted through 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 19.

Once the redistricting proposal is complete, copies of the draft plan and the proposed district maps will be available for public view on the county's website at sussexcountyde.gov. A public hearing will be scheduled later this summer or in early fall.

The league commended the county council for opening the process to public comment prior to drawing its own map. They urged council to schedule its public hearing as soon as an official map is drawn and prior to preparation of an ordinance adopting the map.

"We understand that once an ordinance is introduced, no significant changes can be made without the requirement for a new public hearing," Ward said.

Original Publication Date: July 12, 2011



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