Office of the Mayor - Oct. 2, 2019
During their October meeting yesterday the members of Winston-Salem Local Governance Study Commission were briefed on constitutional and legal standards for re-drawing council ward lines and for adding at-large seats to the City Council.
Allison Riggs, the chief voting rights counsel at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, reviewed the provisions of the 14th Amendment, the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the North Carolina Constitution that apply to redistricting. She also discussed how they might apply to non-partisan elections or to the addition of at-large seats.
The commission also reviewed the pros and cons of elections by district and at-large and asked the city staff to research how other cities have changed their election methods. That information will be presented at a future meeting.
The commission is still accepting input from city residents on the method for electing the mayor and City Council members. Suggestions may be submitted online using a form posted at CityofWS.org/LGSC.
The 11-member, non-partisan commission, jointly appointed by Mayor Allen Joines and N.C. Reps. Donny Lambeth and Debra Conrad, is evaluating the city’s election process. If it determines that a change in the process is needed, the commission will recommend a structure that ensures appropriate representation of all segments of the population. Given the time needed for the commission to complete its work, no changes will occur in the 2020 election process for the Winston-Salem mayor and City Council.