Last redistricting hearing for our area held

      The panel listened to residents' concerns

      More than 100 people packed into the Myrtle Beach Law Enforcement Center for a hearing concerning a potential shift in district lines to reflect U.S. Census data. Thursday night's meeting is just one of nine being held across the state.

      State Representative Alan Clemmons, a member of the House Redistricting Committee, said the public's input is important. "People should care because this is the opportunity for the public to be involved in this redistricting process. You can't wait six months from now and say they didn't do it right. Now's the time to have your input heard."

      Each speaker's opinion was recorded and will be referred to later when the committee prepares the new maps.

      "It's simply to show a force that we the citizens of this county really do care about our representation and what we can do for the district, but also for the state of South Carolina given the opportunity," said Larry Richardson.

      Overall the crowd wants to see more representation from our area in Columbia.

      A new 7th Congressional district seat is also up for grabs, and many want Horry County be a part of it. Right now, Horry County shares the First Congressional District with parts of Georgetown County, Charleston County, Berkeley County and Dorchester County. It's headed up by Representative Tim Scott.

      "We do provide more than the lion's share of the income for the state as a whole, so I think we deserve that Congressional seat right here so we have a spokesman for us and our unique situation in Congress," added Richardson.

      From 2000 to 2010, Horry County increased in population by 37 percent. Much of that growth occurred in Carolina Forest.

      "I certainly think we need to have our own State House seat. I think we need to have representation in Columbia that's focused on Carolina Forest. Not that our legislators aren't doing a good job for us now, but I think our needs are not necessarily the same as that of Socastee and Conway," said Dennis DiSabato who represents the Carolina Forest Civic Association.

      In addition to the needs of Carolina Forest, representation of the minority community was also brought to the panel's attention.

      "African-American precincts, there's so many of us out there, and communities it's time we stand up and say we want somebody that looks like us representing us in Horry County," said Cedric Spain.

      Spain goes on to say that part ofHouse District 58 was gerrymandered into two other districts, which he says split up the minority vote. "We always capitalize on tourism, diversity, if it's that diverse, then why do people work so hard to keep someone looking like me out of elected office?" Spain asked.

      More redistricting hearings are scheduled in Greenville, Summerville, Denmark and Graniteville next week.

      The next step in the redistricting process is for the House and Senate to agree on new maps, Governor Nikki Haley has to sign off on it as well, then the federal government gets the final approval.

      Redistricting is done every 10 years after data from the U.S. Census is released.