Tupelo closes in on final ward lines

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The city’s realigned wards are moving closer to reality.
Earlier this week, a 10-member citizens committee gave its unanimous approval to the proposed wards without recommending any changes. On Tuesday, the City Council will hold a public hearing before it considers final approval.
If approved by the council on Tuesday, the plan will go to U.S. Department of Justice for review. If it passes muster, municipal elections will go forward as planned in May.
The plan, which was drafted by Three Rivers Planning and Development District, had three main objectives:
• Divide the city’s population based on the 2010 census more equally. Under the old lines, there was a 30 percent – 1,500 people – difference between wards 4 and 6. Under the proposed lines, the deviation is 5.5 percent – fewer than 300 people – between wards 6 and 7.
• Maintain minority majorities in Wards 4 and 7. The percentage of the non-white voting age population grew slightly in both wards.
“There was some real concerns starting out,” about maintaining the majority minority populations in Wards 4 and 7, city attorney Guy Mitchell said. “That was addressed clearly and concisely.”
• Avoid moving current council members out of their wards.
By law, Tupelo must redraw its ward lines to incorporate new data from the 2010 Census as well as address the 16-square mile annexation.
Ward 5, currently represented by Jonny Davis, will have the highest percentage of annexed area – about 38 percent of the 3,145 people who have become Tupelo citizens.
“It’s my role, my job, over the next six months, to communicate with them and make the transition as easy as possible,” Davis said.

Shifting Lines

The proposed seven city wards largely maintain their traditional constituencies,
but there are changes.
• WARD 1: Some of the Joyner neighborhood moves to Ward 2.Ward 1 gains annexed
areas in Belden and Endville.
• WARD 2: An area of central Tupelo including Bella Vista, Forrest and West Main
streets, moves to Ward 4.
• WARD 3: President Avenue Extended and Shell Street go to Ward 7.
• WARD 4: All or parts of Wallace Street, Enterprise Drive and Elizabeth Street go to
Ward 3. Parts of downtown neighborhoods also move into Ward 3.
• WARD 5: The Mall at Barnes Crossing and adjacent shopping district shift to
Ward 4. A southern chunk of the ward moves to Ward 3, including all or parts of
Senter Street, Triangle Street and Eason Boulevard.Ward 5 gains annexed areas
including Big Oaks, Indian Hills and Deer Park subdivisions.
• WARD 6: The Windfield subdivision and its surrounding area move into Ward 2.
Ward 6 gains west-side annexed areas along Chesterville Road.
• WARD 7: Loses almost no territory. Gains no annexed areas.