To the voters in Aiken, S.C., please consider your choice carefully on Tuesday, because it will have consequences. The majority of articles I have seen on the subject of redistricting do not tell the whole story. In the opinion of the majority of the city council and our attorney, who has worked on both of the redistricting plans, there is every indication that a 4-2-1 district voting plan would not be approved. This being the case, we are then left with a 5-1-1 or a 6-1 district-voting plan.
The fact is the Department of Justice - because of the U.S. Voting Rights Act - will make the final judgment following the intent of the Voting Rights Act, as they did in 1988. They were set to force the city into a 6-1 voting plan, but because of the city's history of having a minority on the council since the early 1970s, they agreed to compromise with a 4-2-1 plan. With the compromise, the percentages of the minority voting age citizens in the two minority districts were much higher than the 51.6 percent they would be today. The Department of Justice uses 55 percent as a guideline.
My main concern with this issue is the continued improvement in the quality of life for all our Aiken citizens. We have been successful because we have a diverse council and we work together. The 5-1-1 plan will not change that. In addition, it will give voters two at-large seats on council. The 6-1 plan would only give one at-large seat.
With the 5-1-1 district-voting plan, we shouldn't have to revisit this issue again for possibly 20 years. I suggest we support the 5-1-1, or possibly be forced in a 6-1 plan which the Department of Justice was pushing for in 1988.
Mayor Fred B. Cavanaugh Jr., Aiken, S.C.
(Editor's note: The writer is the mayor of Aiken, S.C.)
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