City votes to oppose judicial redistricting

City votes to oppose judicial redistricting


MADISON — A resolution opposing a split of the current judicial district Madison County shares with Rankin County was approved by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. 

Judicial redistricting could come as early as the 2024 legislative session and rumors have been swirling throughout the county that Madison could be split with Rankin County and paired with Holmes or Yazoo counties. 

The resolution states that the city is aware of discussions involving the possible splitting and realigning of District 20 “and desires to go on the record in opposition to this action.”

The resolution goes on to state that the city “finds it in the best interest” of the city to “declare its opposition to splitting Circuit Court Judicial District 20 and to specifically request that no change to this District occur without the unanimous support from the Governing Authority in each municipality in the District.” 

“For months I have heard rumblings that political figures were meeting to discuss the splitting of the Madison and Rankin County Judicial District and to pair us with Holmes and Yazoo Counties or both,” Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler said. “I was surprised at some of the names of our political leaders who were involved.

“Madison the City is the safest city in Mississippi and one of the safest in the country,” she continued. “This is due to the dedication of our law enforcement and the strength of our judicial district. We are tough on crime.”

She added, “I felt we needed to go on record as a city to let our legislators know we are not in favor of this and let our people know of this issue and our position.

State Rep. Jill Ford is a staunch opponent of such a split as well, and last month said during a political luncheon that District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen and other county supervisors were conspiring to split the district. 

Steen responded that judicial districting was a legislative matter.

“I do not see the board getting involved or requesting a change,” Steen said at the time. “Personally, I am satisfied with what we have now.”

District 4 Supervisor Karl M. Banks echoed Steen on Wednesday in saying the issue was a legislative matter and said if he were involved, it was an issue he would not “push any one direction.”

“I am very proud of The City of Madison for passing this outstanding resolution and look forward to The City of Ridgeland and Flora doing the same,” Ford said on Wednesday. “We need to stand unified on this important issue.”

She said whether or not it comes up during the next legislative session is a question for the lieutenant governor next year.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann responded to a Journal reporter after the print deadline on Wednesday and said, “I am opposed now, and will be opposed for the next four years, to dividing the current circuit court district composed of Rankin and Madison Counties, and so are other Republican Senators who represent these areas.”

The last judicial redistricting originated in the House in 2015.

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