Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 1/12: NC court upholds district map, councilman summoned for assault, snow on Sunday?

Collin Cunningham
This picture shows Charlotte during the city's last major snowfall in December of 2018(Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Happy hump day, QCR readers! It is Wednesday, Jan. 12, and snow could be arriving in Charlotte on Sunday. Today's Roundup will tell you how much and set a timeline for this weekend's weather.

But before that, we have news from this week. Yesterday, three North Carolina judges turned in their decision on a lawsuit that accused the state's new district voting maps of gerrymandering. The Republican-favoring maps will stick around, but appeals are expected in the NC Supreme Court. Charlotte City Councilman Braxton Winston is also expected in court soon over accusations of assaulting his wife.

And the Old North State's latest COVID-19 data shows a decrease in daily case numbers while hospitalizations remain high.

1. NC court overturns voting map lawsuit, decision expected to face appeal
Drawn by a redistricting committee in 2021, North Carolina's new voting maps have 14 districts, one more than the previous charts(Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight)

What happened: After hearing arguments from attorneys during a brief trial last week, a three-judge panel in Wake County ruled North Carolina's voting maps to be constitutional. The lawsuit's plaintiffs — including the North Carolina League of Conservative Voters and voting rights group Common Cause — said they will appeal the panel's decision before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

"Free and fair elections are the result of an open and honest process," North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said after the decision on Tuesday. "The General Assembly's maps were drawn in the light of day, after months of public comment and feedback.”

Why it matters: The NCLCV's suit claimed the redistricting committee that drew the new maps in 2021 was guilty of partisan gerrymandering to grant North Carolina Republicans 10 of 14 seats in state elections.

The judges' decision comes with roughly four months to go before the statewide primary election on May 17, but it also allows candidate filing to resume. On Dec. 8, the NC Supreme Court delayed the primaries from March to May and issued a pause on candidate filing, two days after it began. Now, candidates will be able to file their intention to run between Feb. 24 and March 4, per a Tuesday press release from the state.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project prescribed North Carolina's map an overall grade of "F," the initiative's lowest possible score.

2. Charlotte Councilman Braxton Winston summoned to court over assault after wife charged
Charlotte City Council member Braxton Winston, a democrat, has served as an at-large representative for the group since 2017(City of Charlotte)

At-large Charlotte City Council member Braxton Winston is set to appear in court on June 20 after his alienated wife Sheena Hopkins-Winston accused him of domestic violence. Hopkins-Winston filed the criminal summons on Jan. 6 after she left jail on her own assault charge.

The document alleges that Winston punched Hopkins-Winston in the shoulder, attempted to punch her in the face and repeatedly pushed her on Jan. 5. The following day, police arrested Hopkins-Winston on a simple assault charge after the Council member said she punched, scratched and threw an HDMI cable at him. Winston said the following in a statement to WSOC:

It is important to remember that regardless of gender, stature or status, anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. I am grateful for those that have reached out to my family with support in these difficult times.
I understand the media has a responsibility to report when public servants are accused of wrongdoing. The situation my family is facing is an internal one. I ask that the media respect the privacy of my children.

3. Snow on Sunday? Charlotte may see decent accumulation for the first time this year

Charlotte didn't have a white Christmas or a snowy New Year's Eve, but it could have a white Jan. 16. Weather experts are mixed on how much snowfall could occur, with National Weather Service Meteorologist Patrick Moore telling the Charlotte Observer that the Queen City could see "decent" snow this weekend. The NWS' forecast shows an 80% chance of "Wintry Mix" in Charlotte on Sunday.

If snow does fall, it would be Charlotte's first significant accumulation since 2018, when Moore said 2.9 inches fell on Dec. 8 and 9. Portions of North Carolina's mountains most recently saw snow on Jan. 3 of this year, when high winds from the storm buffeted Charlotte and caused mass power outages.

4. Over 17K new COVID cases: New infections decrease as hospitalizations rise

The omicron surge of COVID-19 could be winding down in North Carolina, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The NCDHHS reported 17,705 new infections on Tuesday, the first time that number has been less than 18,000 since Jan. 4.

But 3,991 people are currently hospitalized for the coronavirus in North Carolina, exactly one inpatient fewer than the pandemic high of 3,992 hospitalizations seen on Jan. 13, 2021, per WRAL.

In other news: The NCDHHS announced on Tuesday that it had ordered 700,000 PCR and at-home COVID-19 testing kits for distribution to schools, health departments, care facilities and other community stakeholders. The department also lists community testing sites here and maintains a database of locations administering the vaccine here.

Below the Fold

NC court, continued: When primaries occur in May, one of the names appearing on the ballot will be Clay Aiken of "American Idol" fame. WFAE reports that Aiken — who placed second in the singing competition's second season in 2003 — is looking to place first in North Carolina's 6th District, which covers Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point in Guilford and Forsyth counties.

Aiken, a Democratic candidate, looks to take the seat from Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning, who won election to the district in 2020. It's the singer's second bid at politics in his home state. The first came in 2014 when Aiken eked his way onto the ballot in the 2nd District before losing to Republican Rep. Renee Elmers.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

Charlotte, NC

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