Alcorn County leaders want to finalize redistricting

Alcorn StockBy Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – Alcorn County supervisors are a step closer to finalizing redistricting maps to be used in the next countywide elections, which will be 2014 midterm elections for U.S. Congress.

The board met with Executive Director Sharon Gardner and geographic information systems planning technician Kathy Brinkley of Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District.
NEMPDD conducted a preliminary analysis earlier this week and determined that 2010 census figures showed population among the county’s five supervisor districts were not in balance, which required that some lines be redrawn to bring district populations optimally within 5 percent of each other.

The starting point, Gardner said, is census information provided by the federal government, which it is now too late to challenge.

Gardner and Brinkley provided maps with preliminary recommendations for changes.

“Earlier this year we found population variances as much as 10 percent between districts, but the district with the highest population growth did not touch the district with the lowest population, so that had a ripple effect,” Gardner said. “This doesn’t include considerations at the local level like voting precincts and mileage for road maintenance within each district.”

The 4th District had the highest population growth under the new census tally, while the 2nd district had the least. Since the two districts do not adjoin each other, some small population adjustments were made between Districts 1 and 2, with minimal changes to District 5, to bring about an equilibrium.

About half of the two-hour meeting was devoted to discussions that arose out of a request from 3rd District resident Jeff Rencher, former 3rd District Supervisor, that his property on County Road 500/Hightown Road be reassigned to the 4th District.

Although he represented the 3rd district on the county board for one term and ran for a second term, Rencher told the board that the 4th District placement was a more comfortable fit for his property.

To accommodate Rencher’s request would require adjusting a district line in a way that divides at least one census block of 87 residents, the census block in which Rencher resides. Another possible change to the district line would divide three census blocks that include 138 residents.

Brinkley will need to make the adjustments manually in her GIS system to determine the actual number of residents who would be moved from the 3rd District to the 4th District if a change is acceptable to 3rd District Supervisor Tim Mitchell and Ross.

Mitchell said he would need to poll residents of those census blocks to obtain their opinion of such a proposed change. The board expects to let the NEMPDD know within a month what changes to make before finalizing a redistricting map.

That final proposed map, however, would then be presented to the public for a hearing and comment period before it could be adopted, Gardner said.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com