Hattiesburg City Council accepts redistricting plan

The city council voted to accept ‘Alternate Plan Number Three’ which is one of the maps created by urban planning developers Bridge & Watson.
The city council voted to accept ‘Alternate Plan Number Three’ which is one of the maps created by urban planning developers Bridge & Watson.
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 9:52 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg city council has voted to accept a redistricting plan for the city wards.

The city council voted to accept Alternate Plan Number Three, which is one of the maps created by urban planning developers Bridge & Watson. The map makes some changes to each ward along their borders to even out the population.

City Council President and Ward 3 Representative Carter Carroll said about 9,000 people per ward was the goal.

“The voting rights act of 1965, which is what we adhere to, tells us that we can have a variance of, you know, 10 percent so that it doesn’t always have to be equal. It just needs to be close. This plan has one of the lowest variances that there are, so it means we moved as few people as possible, yet we kept the wards closest in the same number., and that is very important,” said Carroll.

The line changes impact residents south of Richburg road in Ward 3, who now belong to Ward 5.

“I had to give up the Richburg Hills area, but I had to give Ward 5′s Nick (councilman Nick Brown) 1,000 people, and that was the most common area to give that it was connecting,” explains Carroll.

Other changes impact residents who live off of Thornhill Drive. They are now a part of Ward 1. Residents who live between Eagle Walk Drive and North 26th Avenue are now are part of Ward 4.

“The first thing and the most important thing in redistricting is making sure that each ward is equal; one man, one vote. You want to move as few people as possible to get to the one man, one vote, that everyone’s equal. You need to make sure that you don’t break up neighborhoods that you use lands that are major thoroughfares or creeks, rivers (and) things of that nature. So, there’s a lot of other items that go into the redistricting,” said Carroll.

Residents in between Meadowlane Drive and Melba Avenue now are part of Ward 2. Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado abstained from voting and shared some of her concerns about the plan.

“For some reason, Ward 1 is shown as being a majority-minority district, and it’s not. We have a bunch of transient students, you know, who are counted in that particular area who do not make an impact or do not participate to that level in what goes on in the city of Hattiesburg. Ward 4 would have been the most appropriate and most accurate ward to give that makeup to, and, so for us to just choose Ward 1 is to strategically make sure that we maintain the status quo,” expresses Delgado.

Delgado has been on council for the past three redistricting decisions and says she doesn’t think anything has changed.

“I’m concerned about the entire City of Hattiesburg, and the plan does not represent the makeup of this city. You know, we’ve got to get to a point where we act in such a manner as to make sure that there is a one-man, one-vote principle enacted, ensured or practiced in our community, and that’s not the case,” she says.

Some residents between North 26th Avenue and North 28th Avenue will also join Ward 2.

The ward changes will take effect this year once the ordinance is officially adopted. Once that happens, the city plans to mail information about the changes to everyone who is affected. The changes will mean certain residents now vote in new wards as well as have new precincts.

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