STALLINGS – Although he was one of the main opponents of redrawing voting district lines early last year, Councilman Fred Weber has restarted the conversation to even out voting districts in Stallings.
There are currently six voting districts in Stallings, ranging from a population of 1,283 in District 2 to 2,940 residents living in District 6. Council hopes to even out the population of each district while also putting a process in place to prevent such a large population gap from occurring in the future.
“This is one of those things that, regardless of which method we go with, we need a process in place to make it a no brainer that when districts get out of alignment, the process is there,” Councilman Walter Kline said at the Monday, Jan. 27, council meeting.
Weber plans to work with town staff and others to develop different alternatives for redrawing the districts. Council will then discuss and vote on the plans before they are implemented. Weber and other members of council hope to work through the changes within the next six months so there is about a year before election filing opens.
The current districts have the following populations: District 1 – 1,963 residents; District 2 – 1,283 residents; District 3 – 2,414 residents; District 4 – 2,433 residents; District 5 – 2,932 residents; District 6 – 2,940 residents.
“What I’m working on right now is to get the feeling of the council on the number of districts they want and how we have to redraw the map so they are balanced so we have an even number of residents living in each district,” Weber said.
In addition to redrawing district lines, council also would like to discuss altering the way elections run. People running for office must live in one of the six districts, but all Stallings residents vote for all six districts. Weber plans to look at altering the rules so only those living in a district will vote for their representative.
“The member running for election has to live in one of the districts, but everyone in the whole town can vote for that individual,” Weber said. “There has been a little bit of conversation about cutting it back so that if you live in District 5, only those people in District 5 would vote for you.”
Currently districts 1, 2, 3 and 6 and the mayor seat are up for grabs in the same election, and districts 4 and 5 are up for election in the alternate election year. Council has discussed shifting the election years so three districts are up for election every two years and the seat of the mayor is up for election during a presidential election year. All terms in Stallings are four years.
“I think moving the mayor’s term to a presidential election year … means that there would be more people out voting for the mayor because of the larger turnout for presidential elections,” Weber said.
No solid timeline on when Weber will present the different voting district alternatives to council has been set, but he hopes to have everything together by the first council meeting in April so there is plenty of time for discussions and any changes the council would like to see.
The November 2013 election saw Wyatt Dunn, a former councilman, elected as mayor. The four new council members elected were Regis Griffin in District 1, Rocky Crenshaw in District 2, Walter Kline in District 3 and Deborah Romanow in District 6.