Orangeburg City Council is opposing a redistricting plan that could cost the county a resident South Carolina House member.

Council voted unanimously last week to oppose proposed changes in House District 95.

“We want to go on record that we are against destroying this district,” Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said during council’s Nov. 16 meeting.

Council unanimously voted to send a letter to the S.C. House Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee noting its objection to the proposed redistricting changes. The plan has moved out of the Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee and to the full House Judiciary Committee, which voted 21-2 to accept the plan.

The proposal moves Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter’s House District 66 to the fast-moving area near Charlotte.

Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, would live in a redrawn House District 95 that would include about 3,000 City of Orangeburg residents.

Rep. Justin Bamberg’s House District 90 would reach into Orangeburg under the proposal. It would include about 10,000 city residents.

Rep. Russell Ott’s House District 93 would change to include both Ott’s home and Rep. Jerry Govan’s home.

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If the maps do not change between now and final approval in December, Govan and Ott could face each other in the 2022 election.

Govan lives in Orangeburg, while Bamberg lives in Bamberg and Ott lives in St. Matthews. All are Democrats.

Orangeburg City Councilman Bernard Haire said when he first heard about the proposed redistricting changes and the impact on the City of Orangeburg and the county, he was “quite disturbed.”

“I would hope that no other city in South Carolina has been dealt such a vicious redistricting plan as the one that is being proposed for Orangeburg,” he said.

Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt said council has been working with Govan over the past several weeks.

“In 2023, Orangeburg should be the mecca city of the Midlands because we are moving in that direction,” Keitt said. “I am sure they know what they are trying to do because we are the most Democratic County and the second largest county in the state of South Carolina. They would love to wipe us out, but we are hoping we will not let them do that.”

Councilman Jerry Hannah said looking solely at City Council District 3, he is concerned.

“Just for that one district, I would have to go to three different parties to take care of the constituents in that district,” he said. “That is one little district. All the districts are pretty much chopped up.”

“I am saying to those people in charge: If it was you, what would you do? How would you feel?” Hannah said.

Councilman Dr. Kalu Kalu said the House plan is a clear case of gerrymandering. The county qualifies for at least two resident House members, he said.

Kalu said the redistricting process is a good reminder that people should participate in the Census.

“If you don’t fill it out, this will happen every ten years,” Kalu said.

The S.C. House will return to Columbia for sessions on Dec. 1, 2 and 6, according to memo sent by the House Clerk Charles Reid.

Lawmakers in both chambers have said they hope to have House, Senate and congressional maps adopted by year’s end.

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