The South Carolina House Judiciary Committee will shortly meet to finalize the lines for the State’s congressional districts. During this committee meeting, a vote will be taken to determine Greenville County’s influence in the 4th Congressional District. The committee’s recommendations will then be voted on by the full House before being sent to the Senate.
At the beginning of the mapping process several weeks ago, it appears that two assumptions were made about our congressional districts. The first assumption was that our new 7th congressional district would be on the coast. The second assumption was that Greenville County would be split between two districts. Beyond these assumptions, we should remember that the federal courts require that the 6th district remain unchanged due to the demographics of its minority population. These factors produced an “agreed upon” scenario where the bottom third of Greenville County, some 60,000 people, would be moved to the 3rd district.
When this scenario was challenged by members of the Greenville delegation, we were told that Greenville County must be split to avoid adversely affecting all of the other districts. As Greenville representatives, a couple of us felt a duty to verify what we were told. We asked if a map existed showing Greenville County totally in the 4th district. Upon learning that such a map did not exist, we spent several hours in the map room creating one. Even though we were told that it could not be done, we kept Greenville County entirely in the 4th district without disturbing the population demographics of the other districts, including the 6th.
Our new map was not received with great enthusiasm. While we proved their demographic assertions wrong, we were still accused of being unfair to Spartanburg County. We moved a portion of northern Spartanburg County over to the 5th district, but we kept the important I-85 corridor intact. We cannot change the reality that we are larger than Spartanburg County in economic output and population.
Greenville County enjoyed significant population growth over the past decade. Our growth represents our collective efforts to make Greenville an attractive place to live. In a representative government, population growth normally equals increased political power – hence our State’s new 7th congressional district. Yet, under the current scenario, Greenville County will be punished for growing. We will have our hard-earned increase in political power taken away.
Greenville County has five members on the Judiciary Committee. They will have the opportunity to introduce the new map for consideration – a map that Greenville has earned.