The Big Split: North Little Rock goes different directions

As of Thursday morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has yet to sign Senate Bill 743 but it has been delivered to his office.

It turns out the legislators didn’t listen, as the bill will split Pulaski County into three congressional districts and it will move portions of North Little Rock into the 1st, with the rest of the city and Maumelle staying in the 2nd.

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The split moves the southeastern portion of North Little Rock and Scott, as represented by voting precincts 54 and 55 into the 1st.

Voting precinct 54, seen below, voted at the Glenview Community Center, 4800 E. 19th St., North Little Rock. Curiously Voting precinct 53 also uses the community center as a polling place but it would stay in the 2nd.

Voting precinct 55, seen below, is the All Souls Church at 4601 Walkers Corner Road, Scott.

The move, for one, would put the Academics Plus school system into two congressional districts as the campuses in Maumelle would stay in the 2nd, while Scott Charter Elementary would go to the 1st.

A map of all the Pulaski County voting precincts can be viewed by clicking here.

Arkansas state Sen. Jane English, a Republican of North Little Rock, had previously said that splitting Pulaski County was “unacceptable” but it was English who served as the lead sponsor of the bill that did exactly that.

Local legislators who voted for the split include state reps. David Ray and Mark Lowery while Maumelle is represented by three state senators – English, Mark Johnson and Linda Chesterfield.

Johnson, a Republican, and Chesterfield, a Democrat, both voted against the proposal in the Senate.

Both Johnson and Chesterfield spoke against the bill during hearings with Johnson saying, “counties matter” and that they need to be kept together while Chesterfield called splitting Pulaski County, “hyperpartisan and petty.”

The final vote totals were 22-10 in the Senate, while it was 59-30 in the House.

Splitting Pulaski County was opposed by virtually all municipal and county-level elected officials both here and around the area as Metroplan voted last week in support of making the Little Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 2nd Congressional District.

That would have moved Lonoke County into the 2nd as well and created a district of roughly 750,000 people.

“It doesn’t make sense,” North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick said last week of dividing up Pulaski County. “Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas are the economic engines of the state, so to split off North Little Rock … it just doesn’t make any sense.”