Lee Supervisors near vote on redrawn district lines

By Emily LeCoz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A sparsely attended public hearing on Lee County’s redistricting plan drew just two comments, but supervisors will wait until May 2 to vote on the new map.
One comment during the Monday meeting suggested a precinct change for mostly elderly voters in Plantersville, which the new plan does. Another requested a precinct change for East Heights voters, which the new plan does not do.
About one dozen people attended the hearing at the Lee County Justice Center.
Supervisors themselves said they had no qualms about the proposed map but will wait until their next meeting to adopt it.
The plan nudges district lines to rebalance the population among each of the five supervisor districts and the four justice court-and-constable districts.
Districts must contain a proportionate number of residents, but recent census data show population shifts during the past decade have disrupted that balance. If any of the districts exceed the ideal number of residents by 10 percent, the lines must be redrawn.
That was the case for the supervisor districts and the justice court-and-constable districts.
In redrawing the lines, county officials also must preserve the minority voting strength of District 4, said county consultant Chris Watson.
He said the new map maintains the strength of that district’s black voters and, in fact, increases their percentage from the current map.
That seemed to satisfy Carl Trice, a District 4 resident and Shannon alderman who said he attended the hearing to make sure minorities kept their representation.
“It looks like it does that,” Trice said.
Another District 4 resident, Walter Stanfield, said the plan looks good, but he’ll need a few days to study it in detail before feeling confident about it.
Also present at the meeting were city attorney Guy Mitchell III, Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin and NAACP Tupelo-Lee County President the Rev. Harold Arrington.
Arrington didn’t want to comment, citing an ongoing lawsuit the state NAACP filed against the state’s redistricting plan.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.