Pastors join war on crime

North Charleston police, community and business leaders, clergy and educators met Thursday to work on plans to reduce crime and community relations strategies.

While state lawmakers and local city officials have held several public hearings about drawing new legislative and council districts, Charleston County Council has held none -- so far.

County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said that will change soon.

The cities of Charleston and North Charleston have rushed to redraw their council districts in time for their elections this fall.

South Carolina lawmakers also started on congressional and legislative districts because they work mainly during the first part of the year.

The Legislature tentatively plans to return to Columbia on July 26 to give its plan final approval.

Pryor said the county was not driven by the same time pressures. Council meets year-round, and its next elections aren't until November 2012.

Now, that the county's budget has passed, Pryor said council will turn its attention to drawing new lines.

He said he doesn't expect dramatic changes because the current lines are only about six years old -- not 10.

The U.S. Department of Justice prevailed in a legal challenge to the county, and the federal courts ordered it to change from at-large elections to nine single-member districts in 2004.

Newly elected Councilman Herb Sass could see the biggest change: His new district could shrink by about 30 percent.

Each council district should have about 39,000 residents -- or about 31,000 residents old enough to vote. Sass' East Cooper district, District 1, has 50,318 residents and a voting age population of 37,327.

Councilman Elliott Summey's District 3 in North Charleston and Councilwoman Anna Johnson's District 8, in southern Charleston County, also have seen above-average growth, while Pryor's District 5 and Councilman Henry Darby's District 4 have experienced the least growth.

Pryor said the county will make every effort to preserve three minority-majority council districts because of the federal court order.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.