An accelerated deadline and an updated population count (currently 99,727) from the 2020 U.S. Census resulted in the Moore County Board of Commissioners approving a countywide redistricting plan on Tuesday. Moore County has five commissioners, each representing a residency district. A commissioner must live in the community they represent but are elected by a countywide vote.
The current districts were established in 2015 and were recently updated with the census information.
Maps courtesy of Moore County.
Initially, county leaders expected a Nov. deadline for redistricting due to the pandemic delaying the release of census data. The state modified the due dates for redistricting a couple of months ago. However, residency districts were not included in the extension. By state law, all redistricting must be completed 150 days before the next election, resulting in a deadline of Oct. 9.
Commissioner Frank Quis thanked Moore County staff for their hard work in getting the proposed changes before the commission on a quick schedule. Commissioner Louis Gregory added that it was a difficult decision but believes that the board made “a good decision.”
The purpose of the redistricting was to balance the population of each district. Under the current districting, there is a wide disparity between the districts, with District 3 having 10,989 and District 2 and 4 averaging 27,000.
District 1 includes Carthage, Whispering Pines, and Vass. Under the current districting, its population is 19,168. Under the redistricting plan, that will grow to 23,371.
District 2 includes Pinehurst, Taylortown, and the Seven Lakes community. In terms of population, this is one of the largest districts. Currently, the population stands at 26,614. Under the proposed redistricting, that will climb to 26,681.
District 3 is the largest district geography but consists of mostly farmland and smaller communities. It consists of the northern end of Moore County. It gained the most population under the redistricting, going from 10,989 to 14,027. The district also expanded by 102 square miles.
District 4 includes all of Southern Pines and had the largest drop in population, going from 27,053 to 18,956.
District 5 includes Aberdeen, Pinebluff, and Foxfire. The district grew from 15,903 to 16,692.
The board voted 5-0 to accept the proposed redistricting.
In other matters, the board approved a quarter-million-dollar contract to purchase new patrol vehicles for the sheriff’s department. Every year, Moore County conducts a review of Moore County vehicles to determine what vehicles need to be replaced due to high mileage or mechanical issues.
Major Andy Conway addressed the commissioners stating that the purpose was to ensure “we are providing our deputies safe and functional transportation to effectively do their jobs as they serve our citizens.”
The contract with lderton Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram is for nine 2021 Dodge Charger AWD Pursuit Vehicles. These vehicles have a top speed of 140 mph and will be delivered before the end of the year. The availability of the vehicles (the worldwide chip shortage can make obtaining new vehicles difficult) will save 3-5 percent over the cost of 2022 models.
The commissioners also approved the establishment of a digital inclusion task force. According to Moore County IT Director Chris Butts, the purpose of this committee would be to focus on expanding broadband access to Moore County residents currently underserved. According to Butts, this will give residents access to:
- online education learning and closing the homework gap
- more affordable internet service
- increase digital literacy
- obtain enhanced service for public safety officials
- connect patients in remote areas to health care providers through telehealth
- allow small and home businesses to compete in local, national, and global markets
- allow government services to be more readily available
- online tools for individuals with disabilities
- Allow people to communicate and stay connected with friends and family.
The task force will include Moore County staff and Chairman Frank Quis, and their first meeting is later this month.
The board also scheduled two public hearings at their next meeting to be held on Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m. One is to consider adding two street names to Moore County. The other deals with applying for a grant for the Community Transportation Program.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice.