Salisbury Redistricting Plan Approved by U.S. District Court - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Redistricting Plan Approved by U.S. District Court

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SALISBURY, Md.– The City of Salisbury has overcome its final hurdle to finalizing the redistricting plan approved by the City Council last week, Mayor Jim Ireton announced Wednesday.

The United States District Court has approved the plan, which passed through City Council on Sept. 8. The plan replaces Salisbury’s two existing election districts, established in 1987, with a system of five single-member districts, with each district electing one council member who must reside within the district he or she represents.

"The most important part of this approval is that the courts did not force Salisbury to take the progressive step of creating majority-minority districts,” Ireton said in a press release. “This is a well-deserved moment for our city… Again, this approval reflects a changing Salisbury and is a victory for our residents, for diversity, and for the undeserved parts of our city.”

The two-district system was formed as a result of a challenge to the at-large system in 1986. Gene Jackson Sr. and the city’s African-American voting population argued it violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by giving some people “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” The matter was resolved in district court the following year by a consent decree.

That agreement led to the establishment of two election districts -- a single-member district with a majority-minority population, electing one member of the City Council, and a majority-white, multi-member district electing four council members. The decree anticipated the city would periodically alter the district lines to accommodate population changes, but that the structure established by the decree would otherwise remain in place.

Ireton and the City Council have been examining redistricting options since the 2010 U.S. Census indicated a significant shift in Salisbury’s general demographic makeup, with the city becoming much more racially diverse. The recent vote on the five-district option was the culmination of about two years of careful consideration, according to the city.

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