Vicksburg city board begins work to redraw ward boundaries

Published 4:06 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

Population shifts between the North and South wards in the wake of the 2020 Census will require the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to shift the city’s boundaries, a consultant hired by the city to help with redistricting said Wednesday.

“There’s going to be change,” consultant Mike Slaughter said. “You’re going to have to redistrict.”

Slaughter met with the board to go over the benchmark plan supporting the need for redistricting and to get direction from the board on how to proceed.

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The meeting is the first of several between the board and Slaughter, of Slaughter and Associates, an Oxford-based urban planning consulting firm, as the board members deal with changing the boundary between the two wards and shift some South Ward voters to the North Ward.

“Right now, I don’t see but one direction we can go,” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. recommended Slaughter meet individually with Mayfield and South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour “and then go to the public.”

“This (redistricting) does not concern me,” Flaggs said. The mayor runs at large.

Slaughter said the benchmark plan was developed using the present ward boundaries developed after the 2010 Census and including the 2020 Census.

The goal, Slaughter said, is to reach equal distribution of the population in both wards to ensure the one man/one vote principle required under the Constitution and by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Redistricting is required if there is a population deviation of more than 10 percent in the total population between the wards compared to the ideal, or equal, population for Vicksburg, which is 10,748.

“We want that total deviation to be 10 percent or less,” he said. And Vicksburg’s deviation, he said, is more.

According to the consultant’s report, the 2020 Census puts Vicksburg’s population at 21,573, or 2,283 less than the 2010 Census total of 23,856. The present population of the North Ward is 10,176, while the South Ward’s population is 11,391.

According to the benchmark plan, Vicksburg is 67.2 black and 28.2 percent white and the majority of the black population lives in the North Ward.

“The North Ward is 5.6 percent below the ideal population of 10,784 and the South Ward is 5.6 above,” Slaughter said. “When you add those two together, you get (about) 11.3 percent deviation.”

The steps to develop the board’s redistricting plan will involve a series of public hearings on redistricting, developing the plan, presenting it for public review and adoption and then implementing it.

 “This may seem simple enough,” Mayfield said, “But I guarantee, when everybody on the inside and the outside get an opportunity to look at it (the plan) and inject their ideas and opinions and everything that goes with it, you’ll find out it’s a long way from being simple.”

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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