City of Vicksburg redistricting hearing set for Friday

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Vicksburg voters will get their first look at proposed changes to the city’s North and South wards at a public hearing on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Robert M. Walker Building, 1415 Walnut St.

Voters in the city will have the chance to examine redistricting maps, ask questions and give their opinions on the proposed changes.

Population shifts between the two wards recorded by the 2020 Census require the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to shift the city’s boundaries, a consultant hired by the city to help with redistricting said.

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“There’s going to be change,” consultant Mike Slaughter said at an October meeting on redistricting. “You’re going to have to redistrict.”

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

At the time, he said the benchmark plan was developed using the present ward boundaries drawn 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, Slaughter 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 percent 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 involve a series of public hearings on redistricting, developing the plan, presenting it for public review and adoption, then implementing it. The next municipal elections are in 2025.

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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