The North Carolina House of Representatives has rejected a controversial plan that would limit the authority of the Greensboro mayor and could change the make-up of the city council.
The House rejected the bill in a 73-35 vote on Monday night. A joint committee of House and Senate members will negotiate the terms of the measure, which had been approved by the House as a different plan, before returning it to each chamber for a new vote.
Sen. Trudy Wade, a Guilford County Republican, first proposed the plan in February. She sought to shrink Greensboro’s City Council to seven members from nine, require members to represent newly drawn voting districts instead of at-large seats, and make the mayor a non-voting member. Senate Republicans easily approved the measure in March, but House members resisted it.
The House considered the measure on Monday night as part of a new bill that would change the composition of the council of the city of Trinity, population 6,600. Five of the six House members who represent Greensboro, population 285,000, complained about the apparently dissimilar plans being combined under the same bill.
Rep. John Blust, a Guilford County Republican, told lawmakers on the House floor that the plan has generated negative responses from Greensboro residents and city council meetings. He said he would support a redistricting measure only if it were put to a voter referendum.
“The cost of this is going to be a lot of outrage in the community that’s going to last for a long time,” Blust said.
Rep. John Faircloth, a Republican and the only Guilford County member supporting the plan, said the plan is an effort to create voting districts is an effort to improve voter representation on the city council.
“If you look at the map, it’s a picture with a little circle where five of the office holders live,” Faircloth said. “Those five can make all the decisions for Greensboro. They don’t need the other four.”
According to Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Guilford County Democrat, House leaders appointed five members to negotiate the bill with Senate appointees: Rep. Pat Hurley, a Republican from Randolph County and sponsor of the bill; Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican from Carteret County; Rep. Mike Hager, a Republican from Rutherford County; Faircloth and Blust.