House members approve state House district maps

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Congressional, state Senate maps to be voted on this week

By Caroline Curran, Reporter

RALEIGH—Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives on Monday approved new maps outlining state House districts.

State Rep. Frank Iler, an Oak Island Republican representing District 17, said house members approved the new maps 68 votes to 50 votes, with two Democrats joining the Republican-led majority during Monday afternoon’s house session.

Rep. Dewey Hill, a Whiteville Democrat who represents District 20, voted for the new maps, which shifts his district from Columbus and Brunswick counties to all of Columbus County and portions of Bladen and Robeson counties.

While the new map isn’t perfect, “I can live with it,” Iler said.

Currently, Iler represents most of Brunswick County. The southwest portion of the county that had been in District 20 will now be in District 17.

In fact, the approved House District 17 brings most of Brunswick County back into one district.

Earlier proposals split Brunswick County and various precincts and towns, including Southport, Oak Island, Town Creek and Sunset Harbor voting districts. They were included in District 18, which includes most of Wilmington.

Iler said the mps were changed after people rallied against splitting the towns and coastal areas.

“That’s the one where I went kind of ballistic,” Iler said of the proposed split district, which was overwhelmingly rejected in many public hearings across the state.

As approved, the following Brunswick County voting precincts will remain in District 17: Waccamaw, Longwood, Shingletree 1 and 2, Grissettown, Frying Pan, Secession 1 and 2, Supply, Mosquito, Shallotte, Oak Island 1, 2 and 3, Southport 1 and 2, Boiling Spring Lakes and about three-quarters of Belville.

The following Brunswick County precincts have been proposed to be in District 18, currently represented by Wilmington Democrat Susi Hamilton: part of Belville, Bolivia, Town Creek, Hood Creek, Woodburn and Leland.  Eleven Wilmington precincts are also proposed for District 18.

“I think that District 17 is fine. I hate to give up any citizens of Brunswick County, but we didn’t have a choice. When you can only put an average of 79,000 citizens in each district, we had to give up almost 30,000 citizens somewhere. Logic says if they’re close to Wilmington, maybe that would be a good fit,” Iler said.

Keeping coastal areas together was important for Iler.

“It’s a more compact, desirable thing, with more common interest with the coast being together. I hope to have two representatives from Brunswick County,” Iler said of the approved District 17.

The state house maps will now go to the Senate for their approval. Iler said that vote would likely take place this week. General Assembly members are also expected to take up state senate districts this week.

As proposed, Brunswick County will remain in Senate District 8, represented by Southport Republican Bill Rabon. The biggest change in local senate districts are Columbus is removed from District 8 and combined with Robeson County to make District 13.

District 8 as proposed would include Brunswick, Pender and Bladen counties.