Why are districts important in Sanford? Until 1983 the City Commissioners and Mayor were all elected at-large, meaning everyone in the city voted for each commissioner. At the time people voted much more heavily based on race and so Blacks found it impossible to be elected. A group of residents came together and sued the city in federal court to require single member districts in which only residents of that district vote for that commissioner. District 2 was drawn to maximize the number Black voters and became known as the minority-majority district. This district's majority was made up of minority voters. Since then District 2 has always been represented by a Black commissioner.
Why is there a question of how many districts the city should have? In 2018 the voters passed a Charter change that allowed the City Commission to increase the number of districts from the current four to six. That change was never discussed until the 2020 census prompted redistricting.
Has the City Commission voted against having six districts? No. The commission has discussed the change but has not taken a vote. After the 2022 election the commission will consider a second redistricting that could create two more districts.
Why was it not done with the redistricting that was approve in January?
1) Census data was delayed and there was a very short timeframe before redistricting was required by law. More time was needed to draw maps with six districts and allow for public feedback.
2) If adopted for the 2022 election, five members of the commission would be selected during one election cycle and only two would be selected the other election cycle. The number of seats up for election in each cycle should be balanced.
3) Although a district with more than 50% African Americans could not be drawn, District 2 was still heavily weighted toward Blacks (47 percent).
Will six districts guarantee a minority-majority district for Blacks or Hispanics?No. As more people move into the city, and neighborhoods become more integrated, it becomes difficult to maintain a majority Black district past 2026, even with six districts. For Hispanics, it is even harder because they are more evenly distributed throughout the city.