R’land adding minority wards
RIDGELAND — Officials here will consider a redistricting plan that will create two majority-minority wards in the city.
City officials and their legal council will draft a resolution that will adopt a new map for the wards following a public hearing held on Tuesday evening at City Hall.
The map, known as “Concept 4”, was drafted by the city and is the result of a roughly a year-and-a-half-long process.
Ward 4 and Ward 5 will become majority-minority wards.
Ward 4 is represented by Alderman Brian Ramsey and Ward 5 is represented by Alderman Bill Lee.
Mayor Gene F. McGee said he appreciated the public response and thinks the city has approved a plan that is headed in the right direction.
“I think we did a good job drafting a redistricting plan that is fair and equitable but won't cause too much confusion,” McGee said.
A motion accepting the plan was approved unanimously after the public hearing.
The ordinance will go before the board for consideration at the second meeting in February. If approved, the ward lines will be redrawn and the city will work with county officials to ensure polling places are established and information is properly distributed to voters.
Chris Watson presented information from four proposed redistricting maps at the public hearing. Watson is a consultant for the city with Bridge & Watson Inc. out of Oxford.
About a dozen maps were produced for the hearing, all of which were eligible for consideration and were made available to the public, though the hearing concentrated on four specific concepts.
Public response was generally positive, though one woman suggested the current wards were fine as is.
McGee said the Department of Justice sent a letter during the process saying they had been made aware of demographical changes in Ridgeland and suggested the city consider majority-minority districts in its redistricting plans.
McGee said the city worked closely with the DOJ sharing maps and participating in several Zoom calls.
The city’s redistricting process began with new and updated population data from the 2020 Census and preparation for the 2025 election cycle, said City Planner Jordan Lohman.
Lohman said ward lines are redrawn when new census data is available primarily to ensure a ratio of “one person – one vote” in city elections.
“The new census data demonstrated that ward boundaries must adjust in order to more equally distribute population throughout the city’s wards,” Lohman said. “One of the more important elements of any redistricting is to ensure equal voting strength of each person.”
Redistricting principles discussed by Watson include minimizing the degree of change or disruption, utilizing visible lines of demarcation, maintaining core constituency, avoiding dividing communities of interest, avoiding pitting incumbents against each other, compactness and contiguity as well as the previously stated goal of “One person – one vote.”