Committee appointed to manage any changes driven by census

Published 2:13 pm Monday, January 6, 2020

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is taking steps to ensure Vicksburg is ready to adjust to anticipated changes following the results of the city’s 2020 census.

The mayor Monday appointed a committee of city clerk Walter Osborne, District 3 Warren County Supervisor Shawn Jackson, Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Alex Mousour, city attorney Nancy Thomas, human resources director Fermika Smith, pastor Linda Sweezer and county election commission chairman Sarah Dionne. Administrative assistant Deborah Goodman will serve as an ex-officio member.

“This may be the most important committee for 2020,” Flags said. “It is absolutely imperative that we appoint this committee going forward.”

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Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, a census to determine the U.S. population is held every 10 years since 1790. The census results can affect states’ congressional districts and federal grant funding.

Locally, the census can affect aldermanic and county supervisor districts or wards and whether cities and counties qualify for federal funds.

Flaggs said the committee will evaluate census information and issues affected by the count, such as the boundary lines for the North and South wards and voting precinct locations for the 2021 municipal elections.

“We’re starting early so we can get on top of it,” he said. “We must make certain we have an accurate census count and we do have to redistrict the North and South Wards, and I think we’re going to have to reduce the number of precincts.

“That (the census) is very important to the city and its future. We must grow above 25,000 people in Vicksburg. I think we have them; we just have to make certain the counts are accurate,” he said.

After the meeting, Flaggs said a 25,000 population for Vicksburg is important “because in order to meet most of your federal thresholds on grants, particularly on infrastructure and transportation, you have to have 25,000 or more people to be outside the rural district.”

Having a 25,000 population, he said, makes the city more competitive for grant money. Population totals, he said, also affect federal Title 1 funds for school systems.

He said city officials are working with census officials and will hire a part-time employee to help with the count.

Besides redistricting the North and South Wards, Flaggs wants to reduce the city’s 11 voting precincts by combining them with county precincts inside the city, adding he has talked with Dionne about merging precincts.

Presently, the precincts for municipal elections are different from the county precincts in the city. The different precincts have caused confusion during elections.

“We ought to be able to coordinate these precincts so they will be the same precincts the county uses so the voters can become acclimated in these precincts,” he said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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