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Lawmakers From The Cape Fear Region Discuss The Upcoming General Assembly

North Carolina’s new legislative session convenes next week, and the Cape Fear Region has priorities. This week on CoastLine, four people who represent the Cape Fear Region talked about their priorities. WHQR  has a closer look at the discussion with Republicans Ted Davis and Holly Grange, and Democrats Deb Butler and Harper Peterson.

Gerrymandering turned out to be a recurring theme with listeners. It’s the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries.  And it’s often blamed for political gridlock, usually by the party that is not in power. 

Rep. Deb Butler is a Democrat who represents House District 18.

“I really believe that gerrymandering is at the root of the partisan bickering we find in Raleigh and, and nationally. Because when the districts are drawn and legislators are choosing their voters, you can pretty well imagine that those on the left, Democrats, have to take a hard step to the left, and my Republican colleagues have to take a hard step to the right and I think it creates a divide that's not necessary. We all need to come back to the middle.”

Republican Rep. Ted Davis serves the 19th district.

He also believes districts should be drawn independently, not by the party in power.

“I don't normally sign pledges, but I did last session to support the creation of an independent board to look at doing the districts. I cannot tell you whether there's going to be an appetite to do it or not. I know it's something that's definitely on the drawing board and I know it's something that will be addressed. How far it goes. I do not know.”

Holly Grange serves District 20 in the state’s House of Representatives. Her take on the issue of gerrymandering is different. She doesn’t give the concept of being nonpartisan much credence.

“And I also think it's very difficult to say that anything can be nonpartisan in this day and age. I think that there is always going to be some sort of bias that, that someone has and that would be displayed and maybe not even intentionally, but there, I don't think nonpartisan can work. I don't think it exists.”  

New to the political scene in Raleigh, Sen. Harper Peterson is a Democrat representing District 9.

Peterson says his constituents come first. He’s hopeful he can work with both sides of the aisle.

“I think it's important if I'm representing my constituents and obviously some of my constituents are in Holly’s District 20, then we need to be talking about we need to find common ground on important issues and try to, you know, come to some solutions that satisfy our constituents. That's at the heart of it.”

The North Carolina General Assembly convenes for its long session next week in Raleigh.  For WHQR News, I’m Vince Winkel.