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Public hearing held for city of Columbia's new district lines

According to Councilman Sam Davis, all districts will see some type of change, but the main focus is on District 1 and 2.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Every ten years, the city of Columbia reviews the latest census and reconsiders new district lines, based on population. 

Columbia resident, Elizabeth Marks said looking at the new lines, planned out by the city, determines the districts for each council member.

Marks told the council during a public hearing on Tuesday, it's important to consider which areas have grown more, and which ones haven't within the last decade. 

"There is a diminishing density in minority neighborhoods," Marks said. "The work that’s been done so far on redistricting, looks like there’s an equal opportunity for both white and African American people to be elected, to say city council, it’s not quite true when you factor in huge development that’s happening downtown."

The loss of affordable housing, such as the Allen Benedict Court, and Gonzales Gardens are also a concern with redistricting. Race and income help determine the district lines. 

"We have to be intentional in the way our city develops," said Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine. "We don't want to go backwards, we want to move forward. We have to make sure that we are making sure that we’re not basing our lines on race, but taking race into account so that everybody in this city can be represented."

Councilwoman Devine explained, keeping the current district lines will risk losing minority leaders on council in the future. 

"We are going to make sure that our districts are equally balanced and also understand that based on our system of 4-2-1, we need to try and make sure that we have at least two districts with reasonable opportunity," Councilwoman Devine said.

RELATED: Demolition of Allen Benedict Court is underway

 The President of the NAACP Columbia chapter spoke at the public hearing. He agrees with Marks and said the maps need to be slightly changes to ensure all districts are equitable. 

According to Councilman Sam Davis, all districts will see some type of change, but the main focus is on District 1 and 2. 

The council will take the feedback they received and make possible changes. 

There will be a next hearing during the next council meeting. 

To see the proposed district lines, CLICK HERE.

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