GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Proposed changes to the legislative districts for House and Senate seats in North Carolina could mean your representation in Raleigh may be changing.
House and Senate members got the first look at the proposed changes over the weekend. On Tuesday, public hearings were held across the state, where Republican and Democratic voters voiced concerns.
For some lawmakers, their districts cover almost entirely new areas. One example is the new District 3 in the Senate, which would impact Republican Sen. Bill Cook.
Previously, Sen. Cook represented eight counties, including Beaufort, Dare and Hyde.
Under the proposed changes, his district would change to cover Beaufort, Martin, Bertie, Northampton, Warren and Vance.
“You’re at 150 miles, or almost 3 hours of drive time in the most direct route, for a senator to cover his district,” said Keith Kidwell, the GOP Chairman in Beaufort County.
Kidwell said the district, as proposed, makes no sense and isn’t fair to anyone involved.
“How does a senator who’s going to represent Northampton, Warren and Vance, also represent the coastal areas, or vice versa,” he asked.
Another concern with the new districts is that in several areas, changes mean pitting two incumbents against each other for one seat. One example is in Wilson County, where Democratic Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield would now run against a Republican colleague, Rep. Susan Martin.
“It is what it is, and you have to deal with reality,” said Rep. Farmer-Butterfield. “So if she runs and I run, we will be in a district where either one can win.”
In a statement, Rep. Martin said, “I’m praying and discussing the future with my family. New district information will be a part of my decision. Serving the citizens of district 8 is an honor I enjoy because of the people I represent. I am moving my daughters into college this week and will be back in Raleigh next week.”
Other lawmakers in the East face some big changes as well.
Sen. Louis Pate (R- Dist. 7) would no longer represent any of Pitt County. Rep. George Graham (D- Dist. 12) would no longer represent Craven County. Rep. John Bell (R- Dist. 10) would no longer represent Lenoir or Craven, but would now cover all of Greene County.
Sen. Don Davis (D- Dist. 5) would no longer represent Kinston or Lenoir County, but would now cover all of Pitt County. Sen. Davis said all of these proposals may only be temporary.
“Courts will either clear it or potentially bring it back to the drawing board, or they could actually begin drawing it themselves,” he said.
The General Assembly is expected to reconvene in Raleigh on Thursday to potentially vote on the new districts. According to a court order, they must have them finalized by September 1st.