EDITORIAL: Quiet remapping

By NEMS Daily Journal

Lee County’s Board of Supervisors matter-of-factly met their constituents Monday morning in a hearing on the proposed redistricting lines for the five supervisory districts and the four constable and justice court judge districts, setting May 2 to meet and begin the process of adopting the proposed new lines.
Just 23 people attended the well-publicized hearing, including the board members, Chancery Clerk Bill Benson, and board attorney Gary Carnathan.
Consultant Chris Watson had maps of current and proposed new districts and charts showing the populations of the districts, the 2010 Census count, racial breakdowns of populations, and the demographics of proposed new districts.
Supervisors, who had previously seen the redrawn districts and the numbers, offered no comments and asked only one question, for clarification.
The hearing stood in stark contrast to the rancor seen in redrawing legislative districts, an issue thrown into the federal courts when the Legislature could not agree on the same plans for the House and the Senate.
The new, proposed districts drawn by the consulting firm Bridge & Watson, Inc. of Oxford, reflect changes in territory and population to bring total population, racial demographics, and physical characteristics into compliance with state and federal constitutional requirements.
In general, stronger growth in northern Lee County than in the southern part of the county drove the geographic realignment.
The district’s lone minority-majority district, District 4, would increase to 63.8 percent minority population from 61.7 percent, and a minority voting age population of 60.1 percent from 58.3 percent.
The minority population would drop by a small percentage in three other districts (2, 3 and 5), and increase slightly in District 1.
Census data, from which the new district lines were drawn, shows Lee County is 69.3 percent white, 27.3 percent black, and 3.4 percent other minorities.
District 4 Supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy, who is African-American, said he is pleased with the alignment.
The board’s acceptance of the plan, and required U.S. Department of Justice approval, would make Lee County’s compliance with the law a smooth and controversy-free transition, a reaffirming contrast to legislative arguments.
The proposed remap slices county voters in the city of Tupelo into oddly shaped arms of all five districts, but absent disqualifying issues raised in objections to the plan (none were voiced at the meeting except for one person who questioned the way District 5 would be reshaped beyond Tupelo’s city limits), it probbaly will be approved .