Hidden Valley neighborhood to get day in court for new voting map

Residents say they’re being moved into a voting district that would deny them from electing candidates of their choice.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One Charlotte neighborhood is suing the city over its new political redistricting map, claiming it’s a form of gerrymandering.

The map moves the Hidden Valley neighborhood from District 4 to District 1 and residents 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. “We told them when they voted on map B1 that we would see them in court.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: ‘See you in court’ | Hidden Valley neighbors protest and file lawsuit against Charlotte’s redistricting approval

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 court date is set for Jan. 20, 2022. In the meantime, however, neighbors are expressing their frustrations.

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“This was just not right,” said Marjorie Parker, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years. Parker said when she learned the city planned to move the neighborhood across districts, she was disappointed.

“We had formed partnerships out here and we were working on improving some things,” she said.

The move came as a part of the city’s redistricting process. It happens every decade in line with the census, and it’s part of the political process across the country.

“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.”

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District 1 includes areas like Uptown, NoDa, and Myers Park, and Parker said Hidden Valley’s needs are different. 

“We have excessive traffic surrounding Hidden Valley, lack of amenities, a food desert, lack of grocery stores,” Parker said.

Dean said they will leave it to the court to decide the neighborhood’s fate. 

“When the city makes a decision you have an opportunity to take it to federal court and that’s what we’re doing,” Dean said. “We have to fight for our seniors.”

WCNC Charlotte has reached out to the City of Charlotte for comment but has not yet heard back.

Contact Lana Harris at lharris@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.

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