Greensboro plans to sue state over council restructuring

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In response to a law passed by the state that redistricts the city council, Greensboro is now planning to take this case to court against the state. The bill passed by the state would take away Greensboro's city council's right to referendum as well as to redistrict itself. 

From Greensboro News & Record:

The City Council is taking the state to court.

The council voted 8-1 Wednesday to sue the state over a law passed last week that dramatically restructures and redistricts the council. Councilman Tony Wilkins cast the “no” vote. The vote came after a public hearing on the issue that lasted more than two hours and included 60 public speakers. 

“I think we’re sending a strong message,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said. “There are significant constitutional issues with this bill. The right to a referendum was taken away and the ability to redistrict ourselves. We’re the only city, town or village in the entire state that has been singled out this way.”

At issue: House Bill 263. Passed last week, the law eliminates at-large City Council seats in favor of eight council districts. The mayor is elected by the entire city. It also lengthens council terms from two years to four, limits the mayor’s vote to ties and dramatically changes the council district boundaries. Most disturbingly, many council members said, it takes away Greensboro’s ability to restructure its own City Council and draw its own district lines. The new law makes Greensboro the only municipality in the state without those abilities, which are granted to municipalities in state statute.

Wilkins said he doesn’t believe the city can win a lawsuit. “I think it’s going to be a large amount of taxpayer money wasted,” he said. “That’s my opinion. I don’t have any law experience, but from what I’ve heard I just don’t believe the city will prevail. I couldn’t vote to spend taxpayer money on something I thought would be a loss.”

Councilman Justin Outling criticized the process and substance of the law. “As citizens we deserve many things, not the least of which is fairness, transparency and accountability,” he said.

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