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Town leaders expect no redistrict need

While Brookhaven remains in the early stages of a possibly tense redistricting process, some neighboring towns seem likely to avoid the requirement this year.

     Wesson redrew its ward lines in 2007 following annexation of nearby land into the city, and Mayor Alton Shaw hopes those lines will stand.

     Wesson has contracted with Central Planning and Development District out of Jackson to look over its ward map. The city only awaits a final word from the consulting firm as to whether the 2007 wards remain legally acceptable.

     “They don’t think we’re going to have to change any lines,” Shaw said. “Hopefully we’ll hear in the next month.”

     Wesson has four wards and one alderman at large.

     Following each once a decade census, legislative districts, aldermen wards, supervisor districts, etc. must be redrawn to reflect population changes.

     Within cities, no ward can vary up or down by more than 5 percent from its ideal population. A town’s total population is divided by the number of wards to achieve the ideal population for each ward.

     From census to census, if a population has not shifted enough to pull any ward above or below its allowable range, the lines can remain the same.

     The 2000 census showed Wesson with 1,693 residents.

     The 2010 census originally showed Wesson with 1,925 residents, but Shaw said a recount indicated Wesson residents in living in the Copiah-Lincoln Community College dorms were undercounted. A revised count gave Wesson 2,017 residents.

     Though the city showed a population increase of more than 300, the city’s 2007 ward map seems to have satisfied the requirement that all wards remain similar in size.

     Wesson’s 2007 annexation brought in about two and a half square miles and caused some ward lines to change significantly, Shaw said.

     Wesson’s Ward Four Alderman Bobby Britt said the 2007 redistricting process went smoothly.

     “I think, compared to some other areas, it was fairly easy,” Britt said.

     Britt said there were no tensions between aldermen about the new ward lines that he could recall. Disgruntled residents that found themselves in the new city limits were the objecting voices in the process, Britt said.

     Britt’s ward lines changed a little, but not too significantly.

     “I gave up about three city blocks,” Britt said. “But then I gained some area that we took in.”

     Mayor Dave Nichols of Monticello in Lawrence County doesn’t think his town will need to redraw lines either.

     At the 2000 census, Monticello’s population stood at 1,726. The 2010 census showed Monticello dipping slightly down to 1,571.

     “We only changed a little bit,” Nichols said. “I don’t think we’ll have to change anything.”

     Monticello has five wards and no aldermen elected at large.

     Since Monticello went to the ward system about 20 years ago, its lines haven’t changed, Nichols said. From census to census, the town has avoided population shifts large enough to require new lines, the mayor said.

     Mayors from other regional towns in Franklin County and Lawrence did not return calls for comment or could not be reached. However, given their small populations, it’s likely these towns will avoid significant changes to their ward maps.

     Brookhaven aldermen have discussed holding a work session to discuss redistricting, but no such sessions have been scheduled yet.