Winnsboro Town Council OK’s Voting Districts

Winnsboro Town Council approved the second reading July 17 of an ordinance to approve and put into place a redistricted voting map for the single-member district inside the Town limits. The redistricting aligns Winnsboro’s voting districts with Federal Census data collected in 2010.

The ordinance is the next step in a process that began May 15 when Council heard a presentation on the process delivered by Wayne Gilbert of the S.C. Office of Research and Statistics.

The process of redistricting, or redrawing the lines that separate elected representative’s districts, takes place every 10 years following a census cycle. Based upon that data, new lines are drawn that must adhere to federally mandated criteria set in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent the “cracking” and “packing” of minority districts. These criteria include creating equal populations, districts that do not dilute minority voting strength or communities of interest.

The ordinance will now face a public hearing, and the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Justice. Gilbert said in May that the U.S. Department of Justice, which must eventually approve the plan, will have up to 60 days to review and clear the plan.

Gilbert said in May that based upon a town census of 3,550 persons, each of the Town’s four districts would need to target a number of 888 persons, which the plan presented May 15 would do. Currently, Gilbert explained, there are 689 people in District 1, 1,338 in District 2, 758 in District 3 and 765 in District 4.

“The overall district plan now is way out of balance,” Gilbert said. “The overall balance should be within a 10 percent deviation between districts.”

According to the Census data, District 1 (represented by Danny Miller) gained 15 voters, while District 2 (represented by Bill Haslett) lost 15. District 3 (represented by Clyde Sanders) picked up six voters, while District 4 (Jackie Wilkes) lost eight.

Municipal Court

After an executive session July 17, Council voted to preserve its Municipal Court system of three judges. In order to do so, Council approved the hire of two new judges to serve as associate judges under the current Chief Judge.

In June, Council had approved first reading of an ordinance that would have dissolved their relationship with the Municipal Court, handing over that department to the Fairfield County Magistrates Court. At that time, the County had agreed to provide Magistrate Judge William F. Pope to the Town of Winnsboro for a contracted sum of $6,000 plus FICA and retirement annually for each of six judges that would have been contracted to the Town of Winnsboro. The July 17 vote put an end to that proposal.

Other Business

Council voted July 17 to purchase three new truck for the Town’s meter reading department at a total cost of $54,000 from Wilson Chevrolet, which Council said was the lowest bidder. Council also approved the replacement of the air conditioning system at the Old Armory by Smarr Heating and Air at a cost of $7,600.

Freddie Lorick, Chief of Public Safety, was authorized to hire a new police officer to replace Ed White, who passed away last month. Council also OK’d the hire of one new staff member for the Gas, Water and Sewer Department. The department currently has three vacancies, Council noted. Council had previously approved the hire of a staff member for the department during their July 10 meeting.