New NC Congressional Seat Raises Gerrymandering Concerns
After a long delay that will most likely push back local elections in Charlotte, the results of the 2020 Census were finally released this week, resulting in the addition of a new seat representing North Carolina in the U.S. Congress. Due to an increase of about 1 million in population over the past decade, NC will add a 14th seat to the United States House of Representatives, raising concerns around gerrymandering.
Almost immediately after the news came down on Monday, NC Republicans began publicly planning how they would go to work gerrymandering the seat in their favor. In a since-deleted paragraph originally included in a post from former NC GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse on Carolina Journal, he wrote, “Carolina Journal has learned that GOP redistricting leaders will consider approving a new map designed to elect 10 Republicans and four Democrats beginning in 2022.”
The current North Carolina map has eight heavily Republican-leaning districts and five leaning heavily Democrat. For context, Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper won reelection handily just a few months ago, and even the biggest Republican victory in a statewide race last November only saw the winner receiving 54% of the vote.
Though the Republican party lost its supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly in 2018, they only need a simple majority to pass voting maps, which cannot be vetoed by the governor, as explained by INDY Week’s Sara Pequeño this week.
In a Twitter thread on Friday, NC Sen. Jeff Jackson, an outspoken opponent of gerrymandering in NC, called for the passage of a federal bill — specifically the For the People Act of 2021 — that would end gerrymandering.
“They aren’t going to stop unless *we stop them* federally,” Jackson wrote. “Passing a federal law that bans this kind of obvious election rigging by implementing independent redistricting is how we do that.”
Krista Terrell Named ASC President
The Arts & Science Council (ASC) Board of Directors announced this week that acting president Krista Terrell would be brought on to serve in that position in full, effective immediately. Terrell has been with the local arts agency for 19 years and had served as acting president since January, when previous president R. Jeep Bryant retired.
Terrell is the second Black woman and second person of color to lead ASC, following Harriet Sanford (2000-04).
“The ASC Board is pleased that Krista has agreed to continue as president,” said ASC Board Chair Susan Patterson. “Krista operates with integrity and openness — much needed qualities in this time of great change.”
Terrell assumes the helm at ASC during a pivotal time, as the city of Charlotte considers bypassing the organization and managing the funding process for arts and culture. For decades, ASC has functioned as the designated office of cultural affairs for the city and Mecklenburg County.
In February, ASC released its 2020 Cultural Equity Report, in which it addressed missteps the organization has taken in the past, missteps that cemented exiting inequity in Charlotte’s arts scene. In a release on Tuesday, Terrell said she looks forward to working toward the future goals laid out in the report.
“I am excited about the opportunity to lead an amazing and thoughtful team as we transform ASC by centering community in all that we do, leading by listening, securing the financial resources needed and investing in the people, organizations, programs and ideas that move us toward a more equitable, sustainable and innovative creative ecosystem,” Terrell stated.
Cheri Beasley Enters U.S. Senate Race
Recently ousted N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced Tuesday she is entering the race for the U.S. Senate seat that will be left empty by Richard Burr in 2022. She’ll join fellow Democratic nominees N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson, former N.C. Sen. Erica Smith, virologist Richard Watkins and Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton.
Beasley was North Carolina’s first Black woman to serve as N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice, and will attempt to become the state’s first Black senator.
“My mother taught me that no door of opportunity should ever be closed to me, and with hard work, determination and faith, I could accomplish anything,” Beasley wrote in an email to supporters on Tuesday. “These are the lessons that have carried me through every step of my career. In 2019, I made history as the first Black woman to serve as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. But for too many families across North Carolina, the doors of opportunity have been closed. They’ve been left behind and ignored for too long.”
Mask Mandates, Mixed Metrics and More
On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced changes to statewide COVID-19 restrictions, including an increase in how many people are allowed to gather in certain spaces and a loosening of the state’s mask mandate. Though masks will still be required in indoor public spaces, they will not be required outside any longer.
Cooper said he expects to lift the indoor mask mandate once two-thirds of adults in the state are vaccinated. As of Wednesday, about 40% of adults statewide had been at least partially vaccinated. The governor also announced indoor gatherings can increase to 100 people and outdoor gatherings to 200.
According to the latest data released by MCPH on Friday, there had been 109,319 total cases of COVID-19 and 945 deaths related to the coronavirus in the county to that point, an increase of 1,459 cases and six deaths since the same time last week.
According to more in-depth data for cases that had occurred through Wednesday, the county had seen a 6.4% test-positivity rate over the previous week and an average of 222 laboratory confirmed infections per day, both decreasing trends compared to the previous two weeks. On average, 176 people were hospitalized on any given day due to COVID-19 over the past week, an increasing trend.
According to MCPH, 444,834 Mecklenburg County residents (39.7%) had been at least partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, while 316,798 residents (28.5%) were fully vaccinated.
Man and Woman Killed in Separate Incidents
There have been two homicides in Charlotte since our last Weekly News Roundup was published, bringing the total number of illegal killings in the city this year to 33 and putting the city on track to see 99 killings in 2021.
Just before 4 a.m. on Saturday, April 24, first responders got a call about an unresponsive woman in a hotel room on Yorkmont Road in southwest Charlotte. Responding paramedics and firefighters tried to administer aid to the victim, 30-year-old Porsche Lloyd, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Police arrested and charged LLoyd’s boyfriend, 44-year-old Terry Stephens, for Lloyd’s murder.
Shortly after 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call on Rose Ridge Place in the Clanton Park area of west Charlotte and found 16-year-old Marcqueon Goodman suffering from a gunshot wound. MEDIC transported Goodman to the hospital, where he later died. On Friday, CMPD announced the arrest of a 24-year-old man who has been charged with Goodman’s murder, as well as shooting into an occupied property and damage to property.
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