) STOKES COUNTY GOVERNMENT
COUNTY OF STOKES ) DANBURY, NORTH CAROLINA
) AUGUST 31, 2006
The Board of Commissioners of the County of Stokes, State of North Carolina, met for a special called meeting in the Commissioners’ Chambers of the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Building (Administrative Building) located in Danbury, North Carolina on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 6:00 pm with the following members present:
Chairman Leon Inman
Vice-Chairman Joe Turpin
Commissioner Sandy McHugh
Commissioner John Turpin
Commissioner Jimmy Walker
County Personnel in Attendance:
Clerk to the Board/Interim County Manager Darlene Bullins
County Attorney Edward L. Powell
Chairman Leon Inman called the meeting to order.
Chairman Inman delivered the invocation.
Chairman Inman opened the meeting by inviting the citizens in attendance to join the Board with the Pledge of Allegiance.
GENERAL GOVERNMENT – GOVERNING BODY – PROPOSED MODIFICATION IN THE STRUCTURE OF ELECTING MEMBERS TO THE STOKES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
The Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to discuss the “Modification in the Structure of Electing Members to the Stokes County Board of Commissioners”.
Chairman Inman read the following excerpt from G.S. 153A.40 - Special Meetings:
· The chair or a majority of the members of the board may at any time call a special meeting of the board by signing a notice stating the time and place of the meeting and the subjects to be considered. The person or persons who called the meeting shall cause the notice to be posted on the (principal bulletin board of the county or the door of the regular meeting place if there is no principal bulletin) and delivered to the chair and all other board members or left at the usual dwelling place of each member at least 48 hours before the meeting.
Chairman Inman verified with the Clerk to the Board that all members of the Board received the special meeting notice at least 48 hours before the meeting.
Clerk to the Board Darlene Bullins confirmed that all members along with the media received notification by phone before 4:30 pm and their notice by 5:30 pm on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 – more than 48 hours before the special called meeting.
Chairman Inman read the Public Notice:
Chairman Inman noted that one person had signed up for Public Comments.
PO Box 588
King, NC 27021
Re: District System
Mr. Carroll spoke to the Board regarding the proposed District System. Mr. Carroll
stated that he was in favor of a District System for the Board of Commissioners as well as for the Board of Education, if properly done. Mr. Carroll noted the following:
· What is the rush?
· Issue calls for a Blue Ribbon Study Commission
· Commission needs more than hand picked government officials, but by citizens, representatives of both major parties as well as unaffiliated voters to study all the possibilities and ramifications
· Need for multiple public hearings in all parts of the county
· Issue needs legal scrutiny
· His opinion that the proposed map advertised today in Stokes News – a violation of state law and a violation to the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution
· Districts must be “one man, one person, one vote” referring to the Renn Drum case
· Questions the variation in the proposed districts
· Districts published in the paper reflect a variation of districts of 37 ½ % variation of population
· Proposed maps at tonight’s meeting reflect a variation of over 50%
Mr. Carroll concluded by suggesting whatever proposal is voted on that it be submitted to the State Attorney General’s office for a formal ruling to make sure this is done right.
Commissioner John Turpin presented the following information to the Board regarding Modification in the Structure of Electing Members to the Stokes County Board of Commissioners:
· Proposed plan (map) that was given to the Board for consideration is only a suggestion
· Presented the three options: (G.S.153A-58) –Optional structures
For options b, c, and d, the county shall be divided into electoral districts, and board members shall be apportioned to the districts so that the quotients obtained by dividing the population of each district by the number of commissioners apportioned to the district are as nearly equal as practicable.
o b. The qualified voters of each district shall nominate candidates and elect members who reside in the district for seats apportioned to that district; and the qualified voters of the entire county shall nominate candidates and elect members apportioned to the county at large, in any
o c. The qualified voters of each district shall nominate candidates, who reside in the district for seats apportioned to that district, and the qualified voters of the entire county shall nominate candidates for seats apportioned to the county at large, if any; and the qualified voters of the entire county shall elect all the members of the board.
o d. Members shall reside in and represent the districts according to the apportionment plan adopted, but the qualified voters of the entire county shall nominate all candidates for and elect all members of the board.
· Discussed the proposed map (map retained by the Clerk to the Board)
· Population is determined by the 2000 Census
· Presented G.S. 153A-60 Initiation of alterations by resolution
o The Board of Commissioners shall initiate any alteration in the structure of the Board by adopting a Resolution. The Resolution shall:
§ Briefly but completely describe the proposed alterations
§ Prescribe the manner of transition from the existing structure to the altered structure
§ Define the electoral districts, if any, and apportion the members among the districts
§ Call a special referendum on the question of adoption of the alternations. The referendum shall be held and conducted by the County Board of Elections. The referendum may be held at the same time as any other state, county, or municipal primary, election, special election or referendum, or on any date set by the Board of County Commissioners, provided, that such referendum shall not be held within the period of time beginning 60 days before and ending 60 days after any other primary, election, special election or referendum held in the county
Commissioner John Turpin stated that he supports Option 3 and his main goal is to let the people decide by voting in November. Commissioner John Turpin also presented Board members with a proposed Resolution for each option (G.S.153A-58)(b)(c)(d).
(A copy of the proposed Resolutions will be retained by the Clerk to the Board)
The Board discussed the three options presented by Commissioner John Turpin.
Commissioner Walker noted the questions brought up by Dr. Ron Carroll.
The Board discussed the proposed map with GIS/Mapping Administrator Jake Oakley. Administrator Oakley stated that the districts did not cross any precincts.
The Board discussed possibly splitting a precinct – pros and cons, making alterations to the proposed map to make the districts as nearly equal as practicable and possibly moving Danbury to District 1 = 8057, E. Walnut Cove to District 2 =9048 and thus making District 5 = 8009.
The Board discussed how the proposed districting system would affect the primaries and the general election.
Commissioner John Turpin provided the following information provided by David Lawrence – Institute of Government:
· It would be up to the Board to determine the transitional method. If the board moved to all elected from districts, it might decide that those whose terms are up in 2008 would be the first ones elected from districts. Or it could determine the matter by drawing districts out of a hat. It is simply up to the Board of Commissioners to determine that question.
Commissioner Walker noted it was a lot of information to analysis in a very short period of time.
County Attorney Edward Powell reiterated the G.S.153A-58 Options b, c, or d and noted that “If any of options b, c, or d is adopted, the board shall divide the county into the requisite number of electoral districts according to the apportionment plan adopted and shall cause a delineation of the districts so laid out to be drawn up and filed as required by G.S. 153A-20. No more than half of the board may be apportioned to the county at large”.
County Attorney Powell stated that there were no guidelines in the statutes that the maps must be decided on tonight. The main issue being decided on is whether to allow the question of voting by district on the ballot in November. The statute does not give guidance on when the delineation of the districts must be decided.
County Attorney Powell noted that the maps should be decided on and filed with the Clerk within a reasonable period
of time before the voters have to make a decision on the issue. This would allow voters to review the maps before the voting on the issue if desired. There has been no case law or decision regarding G.S.153A-58 that could be found.
The Board discussed the issue of whether the maps had to be decided on at tonight’s meeting or before the voters vote on this issue.
Commissioner Walker reiterated that this important issue needed more time to discuss the issue and analysis the map.
The Board discussed having a special election. Elections Director Olivia Robbins estimates a special election could cost between $20,000 and $30,000.
Commissioner John Turpin presented information to the Board regarding the County election methods in North Carolina published in the 2005 Directory of North Carolina Officials.
Commissioner John Turpin noted that the decision to place the issue on the ballot for the fall election must be decided due to the fact that the Elections Department must send Raleigh a sample ballot by September 1, 2006.
Commissioner John Turpin noted his preference is Option C:
· The qualified voters of each district shall nominate candidates, who reside in the district for seats apportioned to that district, and the qualified voters of the entire county shall nominate candidates for seats apportioned to the county at large, if any; and the qualified voters of the entire county shall elect all members of the board.
Commissioner John Turpin offered to work on the maps.
Commissioners McHugh noted the following regarding the issue:
· Likes the idea of letting the voters decide
· C is the best option
· Against B and D
· Likes general election being elected county wide
· Commissioners should represent the entire County
· Citizens today (in certain parts of the County) feel that they do not have a representative on the Board
Commissioner John Turpin noted the members who serve on the advisory committee:
· Commissioner John Turpin
· GIS/Mapping Administrator Jake Oakley
· Interim County Manager Darlene Bullins
· Elections Director Olivia Robbins
· Elections Board Member Richard Rutledge
Commissioner Walker noted the following regarding the issue:
· Appreciated the work Commissioner John Turpin had done on the issue
· Undecided if this is the right thing to do at this particular time
· No public input has been solicited
· No public hearings have been held giving citizens a chance to express their views
· Wished the process had been started several months ago
· Uncomfortable making the decision when there are unanswered questions in such a hurry
· Have not had a chance to review the maps
· Questions if items had been missed in the process
· Do what is best for the citizens and what is best for the County
· Would like to see the county come more together
· Would support to continue the study if the study is done right
Vice Chairman Joe Turpin noted the following regarding the issue:
· Questions if the map must be decided on tonight
The Board discussed whether general statutes give a specific date on when the maps must be decided on.
County Attorney Powell reiterated that he felt that the Courts would require that maps be made available to the public within a reasonable time before the voters had to make a decision on the issue.
Commissioner John Turpin noted that General Statute 153A-61 requires that the question of voting on districts be a separate ballot. The Board of Elections and the Institute Government both confirmed that the question can and must be placed on the same ballot due to the optical scanning equipment.
Commissioner John Turpin offered to confirm with the Institution of Government whether the map must be approved today, if so the Resolution (if approved tonight) would be null and void.
Commissioner McHugh moved to approve to Resolution Adopting New Election District Boundaries wherein the fourth Whereas states 153A-58-(3)-C; the chairman of the committee check with the state tomorrow to find out when the map has to be ready and if there is enough time to do the maps, immediately go ahead, contact other counties to see how they got started and divided their counties, and as soon as possible get a district map for the Board to vote on, if the State requires that the map should have been adopted with this Resolution, then the vote is null and void.
Vice Chairman Joe Turpin seconded the motion.
Vice Chairman Joe Turpin discussed other options available and reiterating his desire to have the question on the ballot in the November Election.
Commissioner McHugh withdrew her motion in order to allow the County Attorney to amend the submitted Resolution with the items discussed by the Board.
Vice Chairman Joe Turpin withdrew his second to the motion.
The Board recessed to allow the County Attorney to amend the submitted Resolution.
The Board returned to the regular meeting.
County Attorney Powell presented Board members with an amended Resolution.
Commissioner McHugh requested that the proposed revised Resolution include the Advisory Committee members.
Commissioner John Turpin requested Board members submit names of individuals from around the county to serve on the committee.
The Board suggested the following members to serve on the committee:
· Sam Hill, King
· Ron Morris, Walnut Cove
· Barry Stevens, Lawsonville
· Sandy McHugh – Francisco
Commissioner John Turpin, Chairman of the Committee, agreed with the suggested appointees.
Commissioner McHugh moved to approve the submitted Resolution Adopting New Election District Boundaries as presented and amended with the new committee members that Commissioner John Turpin had appointed.
Vice Chairman Joe Turpin seconded the motion.
The Board further discussed the proposed revised Resolution.
Commissioner Walker requested a legal opinion regarding whether the proposed Resolution addresses the following four items of General Statute 153-A-60 – Initiation of Alterations by resolution in an appropriate and accurate way.
County Attorney Powell noted the proposed revised Resolution does not define the electoral districts due to the map not being included.
Commissioner Walker questioned how the Resolution could be adopted without defining districts.
County Attorney Powell noted that this issue will be found out tomorrow by seeking advice from the State, making the Resolution void if the State declares what was done in the Resolution is not proper.
The Board discussed the method of transition from the existing structure to the altered structure, which is included in the proposed Resolution.
Commissioner Walker reiterated the need to take time to study the issue and make sure that all steps have been completed for this very important issue for the citizens of the County.
Commissioner John Turpin move to amend the motion that the method of transition (G.S. 153A-60 (2)) would be the expiring two (four year terms) in 2008 shall be the first districts under the new plan and in 2010 the remaining three districts out of five will be up that election year.
Commissioner McHugh seconded the amendment to the motion.
The Board discussed the amendment to the motion.
The amendment to the motion carried (3-2) with Chairman Inman and Commissioner Walker voting against the amendment to the motion.
County Attorney Ed Powell presented the Board with the amended Resolution as approved by the Board (3-2) for review.
The amended motion carried (3-2) with Chairman Inman and Commissioner Walker voting against the motion.
Commissioner John Turpin expressed his appreciation to the Board for the special meeting which will allow the voters to decide on the issue in November.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Inman entertained a motion to adjourn the special meeting.
Vice Chairman Joe Turpin moved to adjourn the special meeting.
Commissioner McHugh seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Darlene M. Bullins J. Leon Inman
Clerk to the Board Chairman