Bell disregards citizens pleas to postpone vote finalizing redistricting

Raising their hands to vote to approve Bell’s redistricting plan are, from left, Shirley Greene, Neil Robinson, Tim Roeborough, Mikel Trapp and Moses Bell. Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert voted against, saying the plan needs more input from citizens and council members.

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County adopted a redistricting plan Monday night that some say is designed to preserve the current council voting majority.

Chairman Moses Bell

By a 5-2 vote, Neil Robinson joined the majority 4 to approve the new district lines. Councilman Douglas Pauley and Clarence Gilbert opposed.

Pauley and Gilbert tried to amend the agenda to table third reading to give the public more opportunity to provide further input, but their efforts also failed in a 5-2 vote.

While Fairfield County has until March 1, 2022 to finalize the map, the five majority members pressed forward anyway with Monday night’s vote.

A major criticism of the new map is the accusation that Chairman Moses Bell virtually redrew the district lines himself and communicated with the state without adequately involving other council members or the public.

Doug Pauley: “Chairman Bell is drawing a citizen out of District 1 because he believes this citizen is going to run against him. I understand he is drawing a person out of District 1 into my district to run against me. This is another one of Chairman Bell’s failures.”

Council members Mikel Trapp, Shirley Greene and Tim Roseborough – all of whom routinely vote in lockstep with Bell and are now joined by Robinson – went along with the map Bell fashioned.

Pauley accused Bell of redrawing the district maps to remove a potential political opponent from the chairman’s district. He also accused Bell of changing the lines to move a potential opponent into Pauley’s district.

“It’s another one of Chairman Bell’s failures,” Pauley said. “Chairman Bell has only one thing in mind and that is doing what is best for Chairman Bell.”

Gilbert chastised the council majority for shutting out the public, saying the process was intentionally rushed.

“The public was not given time or a fair chance to submit their recommendations for the changes,” Gilbert said. “It was said this is a ‘significant improvement’ over the previous map, which is easy to say if you drew the map.”

Bell didn’t specifically deny accusations of gerrymandering or unilateralism. Instead, he repeated his prior talking points of him having corrected previous redistricting mistakes. Bell also said the map, mathematically speaking, meets federal guidelines.

In District 1, one block moves into District 2 and three blocks shift to District 5, according to the proposed map.

District 2 loses two blocks to District 3, one to District 6 and another to District 7.

A block in District 3 moves to District 5, while District 5 loses four blocks – two to District 3 and and two to District 7, the proposal shows.

“Only 15 census blocks were shifted between districts and District 4 was not changed,” Bell said. “Last time in 2011, the deviation was 7.31%. This time the deviation is 5.08%. [The previous] map has been in place 30 to 40 years.”

Councilwoman Shirley Greene blamed districting critics – which includes the citizens – for not putting forth any alternative redistricting maps of their own, not mentioning that they had, only days earlier, been provided with information regarding the Fairfield redistricting.

“It is better to show leadership than to show showmanship,” Greene said. “While there’s a lot of discussion and harangue, the discussion is about the process and not the product. What we have to look at is the product.”

Federal law requires counties to redraw district lines every 10 years following the release of census results.

The intent is, without gerrymandering, to compensate for routine population shifts so that no district gains an unfair political advantage.

Fairfield County lost about 3,000 residents since the 2010 census, according to the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs office.

The map approved Monday night shifts 15 blocks between six of the county’s seven council districts.

One of those blocks includes Cedar Rock Road, which shifts from District 1 to District 5.

Randy Bright, a frequent critic of the current council majority, lives on Cedar Rock Road. He had emerged as a potential challenger for Bell’s seat, but now that’s not possible since redistricting moved Bright into District 5.

Bright said the council’s tactics helped preserve power for the current four-member majority.

“If I was chairman, here’s what I would do to gerrymander in my best interest. I would throw parity and equality out the window,” Bright said. “I would rush through the process so I would avoid scrutiny of where I went wrong. I’d draw out potential candidates and draw potential cronies in.”


  1. Jeff Schaffer says

    No plans, no vision, no future, Why then are you redistricting a map? it’s useless especially when you don’t know where you are goingThe blind and deaf elected leaders are mute to every subject, presented by the public.
    And now for the latest bit of sad news, this community has to report is Mr. Cornelious Robinson has joined the rubber stamp ruling squad, of self-serving officials who have taken this opportunity to enrich themselves with lavish hotel stays, expensive restaurants. And of course, some of our illustrious council members (used to be 4 now 5)  have increased their expense account, I like to say the truth you’ve padded them to increase your greed. 
    OPM that’s what you folks are good for
    Spending and squandering without any insight into the situation or for that matter without an iota
    of shame or regret.   OPM.  for those of you who don’t know what that acronym means?
    It’s other people’s money.
    Reckless regard for the public welfare and the social future of all the citizens. And the takeaway is… no one takes responsibility, that’s insane! And we have only ourselves and this community to blame. Apathy and ignorance about who we elect to protect and provide a better quality of life for us is just a pipe dream.

Speak Your Mind