Lee County releases new district map

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Some Lee County residents will move into new supervisor districts in four years if a proposed map is adopted this year.
The map, unveiled Monday at the Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, balances the voting strength of the county’s five districts. Recent census data showed the balance had shifted 19.5 percent during the past decade.
By law, counties must redraw district lines if the imbalance exceeds 10 percent.
The public has a chance to view the map and make comments at a hearing set for 11 a.m. on April 18 at the Lee County Justice Center. Supervisors will vote to adopt or reject the plan after hearing from residents.
If the map is adopted and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, it will not affect this year’s county elections, which are still based on the current map, according to County Administrator Sean Thompson.
Oxford-based consultant Chris Watson, who developed the map, said the two main requirements are balancing the districts’ population to reflect the “one-man, one-vote” principle and not diluting minority voting strength.
District 4 is the county’s lone minority stronghold. It currently has 66.3 percent minorities. The proposed map bumps it to 68.8 percent.
Supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy represents the southwest district. It currently has the second-fewest residents after District 5, but it will have the fewest – 16,526 – if the new map is adopted.
District 2, in the northwest part of the county, has the most residents now and will retain that status with the proposed plan. It will have 17,090 people. Of them, 83.5 percent are white. Supervisor Bobby Smith represents this area. He’ll lose some of his constituents in the Holly Hill Drive area to District 3 and some in the Nelle Street area to District 4.
Sandwiched between the two aforementioned districts is District 3, the county’s smallest area-wise. Supervisor Darrell Rankin oversees this territory, which the new map assigns 16,592 people – more than two-thirds are white.
District 1, in the northeast part of the county, has the smallest minority population and will give up a small portion of land to District 5, which lies directly to the south.
District 5 also will pick up households from District 2 in the Summit Drive area.
Supervisor Phil Morgan oversees 1, with 15,625 people in the proposal, 87.8 percent white.
Joe McKinney supervises District 5. It will have 17,077 people, of them, 66.5 percent are white.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.