Two more plans presented at Hattiesburg redistricting meeting - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Two more plans presented at Hattiesburg redistricting meeting

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

As of now, there are four redistricting proposals on the table for the city of Hattiesburg.

The third and final public hearing on redistricting Tuesday evening only brought more debate, and claims discussions were becoming unfocused.  With time running out there seems to be no definite plan in sight.

"All I have heard is white and black. All I have heard is us and them, and if I'm living in a city that it's us and them, then I have made some real serious mistakes," said concerned citizen, David Ott.  

Ott was one of many concerned citizens expressing his discontent over Hattiesburg's redistricting challenge during the final public hearing.

"Please, and I am begging you. Please, leave ward four intact,"said concerned citizen,  Browne Miller.

"Character and personal integrity, what is on the inside, instead of the color of someone's skin," said a concerned citizen.

"Just because someone is of another race does not mean that he or she will not be fair," said concern citizen, Michelle Heidelberg.

The meeting began with the presentation of two additional proposals by the city consultant, Chris Watson, of Bridge and Watson. The first suggestion: make ward one a majority minority ward, resulting in the ward growing from 40.6 percent black to 50.1 percent black. Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley presides over ward one.

"My immediate concerns is that it divides USM," said Bradley.

Members of the Community Political Action Committee who are calling for a third black majority ward say ward one won't do, because they are trying to create a ward where an African American would have a chance at winning.

"The proposal that they have said would make ward one the majority is a tricky situation, because of university students. We all know that university students generally don't vote,"said member of CPAC, Reverend Franklin Browne.

The second option was only prepared hours before by Watson and Councilman Henry Naylor, which would make ward one 53 percent black, but Reverend Kenneth Fairley also presented a proposal by the political action committee.  

"We've asked that wards two, four and five become majority African American wards," said Fairley.

Criticisms over Councilman Naylor vote for a "swing ward" ten years ago, and where his support falls now came from resident Elaine Hartfield and Forrest County Supervisor Roderick Woullard.

"Mr. Naylor's plan stacks and packs minorities into two wards," said Woullard.

"Do I support submitting an electable majority third black ward in the city of Hattiesburg? If some of you recall I said that from day one.

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