A Charlotte neighborhood suing the city over redistricting of city council districts will have to wait a little longer to argue their case before the court.
During a federal court appearance Thursday, a judge delayed the hearing another 30 days to allow Hidden Valley residents to find an attorney. The next court date has not yet been set.
Residents suing the city argue against a decision to relocate the Hidden Valley neighborhood from District 4 to District 1. They say it will deny them from electing their candidates of choice.
"This lawsuit is about racial gerrymandering," Cedric Dean, president of the organization SAVE, said ahead of the court appearance. "We told them when they voted on map B1 that we would see them in court."
Residents in the Hidden Valley neighborhood are predominantly Black. The lawsuit alleges the move to District 1 will dilute the residents' voting power.
"We will not be having access to fair representation. It will be taxation without representation," Dean said. "District 1 has voted for all white representatives, so we will not have representatives that look like us."
The move came as a part of the city’s redistricting process. The possibility of redrawing of district boundaries happens every decade as new census data is published. While the execution has become controversial, redistricting is intended to keep the total population equal amid districts.
“This is part of the consequence of the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote, to try and have districts as equal in population,” said Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College.
Bitzer said the most recent census data from 2020 revealed the population in some districts has grown unequally.
“That is often times the impetus to redraw, rebalance these districts, and sometimes neighborhoods get moved from one district to another,” Bitzer said.
“Data is not people," Parker said. "You really have to value the lives of everybody in Charlotte."
WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.