In March of 2023, State Senator Kevin Johnson introduced a bill to lay out the nine single-member districts from which members of the Clarendon County School Board of Trustees must be elected. Currently, the Board of Trustees is an appointed board and Johnson submitted this bill after increased public pressure for an elected board.
After the bill was introduced, Johnson and House District 64 Representative Fawn Pedalino could not reach an agreement regarding the district lines for a Board of Trustees map before the legislative session ended last fall. In December, local chapters of NAACP held a public forum in December asking Johnson and Pedalino to work together so that the election could be held on schedule. A few weeks into the new session, Pedalino has announced an agreement was made and the map will take effect after approval from Governor Henry McMaster.
"The objective I sought was to resolve this matter to give the voters a voice. Senator Johnson worked with me towards that goal. Many people asked me to work with Johnson to resolve this issue. By dropping my original plan and using his map as a starting point was intended to … show I was listening to their concerns about working together.”
Pedalino went on to explain that Districts 1, 2 and 3 in the south closely match the original Johnson plan as well as 7 and 8 in the north. The main change in approved map was that the prison population was counted. Pedalino believes that to be “consistent with the premise that everyone must be counted and represented.” She continued that adding that population required some changes but many of the districts were fairly similar to the original plan submitted by Senator Johnson.
“Clean lines were important to me. In order for democracy to work, representation should be as simple and easy to understand as possible. That includes district lines. When you understand the lines, you better understand who represents you. When you know who represents you, you can hold them accountable. Gerrymandered lines which wander all over the map can make it harder in knowing who represents you.”
Pedalino went into detail as she outlined her plan. She tried to follow notable landmarks, like roads and rivers. For example, SC Rte 261 is the boundary between districts 6 and 9 in her plan, from downtown Manning to the Williamsburg County line. South of Manning, much of the dividing line between districts 5 and 9 follows SC Rte. 260. Moses Dingle Road, from SC 260 to I-95, is the boundary between districts 5 and 3. US 301 is most of the boundary between districts 4 and 5, from Summerton to Manning, as well as much of the boundary between districts 7 and 8. I-95 is the boundary between districts 2 and 3 between Summerton and the lake, as well as
much of the boundary between districts 4 and 6. Alderman Camp Road is much of the boundary between districts 6 and 7. The Black River is used as much of the boundary between districts 6, 7 and 8. Pedalino’s plan also kept Summerton whole within District 2. She disclosed that it was harder to do that in Manning, which had 4 members in and around the town, as well as Turbeville, which had two members living near each other.
Senator Johnson also seems relieved a compromise has been reached and expressed his
thoughts on working with Rep. Pedalino.
“Representative Pedalino and I did as we promised. Shortly after session reconvened on January 9, we passed a bill that included a map that consists of nine single member districts for the Clarendon County School District. Some folks got bent out of shape unnecessarily … that map and the map that Representative Pedalino presented had very few differences. Those differences were worked out, we gained consensus and the bill eventually passed the Senate and the House shortly after the new legislative session convened. That is exactly how the legislative process is supposed to work.”