More than 50 locally owned businesses have joined the call to end gerrymandering in North Carolina.
The new coalition "NC Business Leaders for Accountability" argues that partisan gerrymandering is polarizing North Carolina’s politics and undermining the state’s business climate as politicians cater to a narrow set of interests.
These business owners are calling for an independent redistricting process that ends partisan gerrymandering and creates voting districts that better reflect North Carolina’s population.
"Gerrymandering undermines competition in North Carolina's elections, which allows candidates to have views that don't represent the public — and that's bad for business in our state," said David Meeker, a Raleigh small business owner who helped organize the coalition. "We need an impartial redistricting process that allows citizens to have a real voice in choosing their representatives. In turn, our elected officials will be more accountable to the people and the business community in North Carolina."
More information on NC Business Leaders for Accountability, including a full list of the coalition’s members, is available at NCAccountability.org.
Comprised of a wide variety of businesses that include local restaurants, gift shops, clothing stores and breweries, the coalition is working with the nonpartisan public-interest group Common Cause North Carolina in its effort to end gerrymandering.
"Redistricting reform is essential to strengthening our democracy," said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC. "The business community’s voice is vital to help us end gerrymandering in North Carolina once and for all."
North Carolina has long felt the negative impact of partisan gerrymandering. Since 1992, nearly half of all legislative races have had just one candidate on the ballot, leaving millions of voters with no choice at the ballot box. Similarly, the state's congressional maps have been gerrymandered by the legislature in such a way as to minimize competition, undermining the right of voters to have a voice in who represents them.
In the face of ongoing gerrymandering, there has been growing bipartisan support for reform. Last year, a majority of NC House members co-sponsored House Bill 92, which would have taken the power of redistricting out of the hands of partisan legislators and given it to nonpartisan legislative staff. However, that bill was not given a vote in the legislature.
At the same time, over 240 civic leaders across North Carolina have signed a petition calling on the legislature to pass independent redistricting reform. And both Gov. Pat McCrory and his 2016 gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, are on record opposing gerrymandering, as are former governors Jim Martin and Jim Hunt.
In August, Common Cause filed a potentially landmark lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering.