Redistricting plans continue for Brookhaven

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen has reviewed the latest proposed plan for redistricting the city’s wards.

During a public hearing prior to its regular bimonthly meeting Tuesday, the board reviewed updated maps and figures from Richard Donovan of Slaughter and Associates.

Donovan said all the numbers looked good and were within the maximum ranges allowed by law.

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“We must preserve the one man, one vote principle,” Donovan said. “We don’t split census blocks and we try to maintain the integrity of the wards.”

A census block is a clearly-defined area such as a city block. Ward integrity refers to the racial makeup of residents and the voting population.

Donovan said his firm recommends waiting at least until the board’s next regular meeting prior to voting on the plan, to make sure no further changes or tweaks need to be made.

Four members of the public attended the hearing, but no questions or concerns were expressed.

If the plan as presented is approved, each ward would be adjusted as follows:

  • Ward 1 — existing overall population of 1,760; adjusted population of 1,877; voting age population moves from 1,300 to 1,384.
  • Ward 2 — existing overall population of 1,997; adjusted population remains the same; voting age population also remains the same, at 1,442.
  • Ward 3 — existing overall population of 1,681; adjusted population of 1,857; voting age population moves from 1,312 to 1,444.
  • Ward 4 — existing overall population of 2,131; adjusted population of 1,912; voting age population moves from 1,627 to 1,463.
  • Ward 5 — existing overall population of 2,138; adjusted population of 1,994; voting age population moves from 1,720 to 1,606.
  • Ward 6 — existing overall population of 1,967; adjusted population of 2,037; voting age population moves from 1,469 to 1,530.

The racial makeup of the voting age population also must be taken into account for redistricting. The Voting Rights Act mandates that redistricting must demonstrate that changes have neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect. Minority voters must not be “worse off” than they were in the existing distribution.

The following changes would take place under the preliminary proposed plan:

  • Ward 1 — existing: 9.6% white; 86.6% black; 3.8% other; proposed: 11.8% white; 84.4% black; 3.8% other.
  • Ward 2 — existing and proposed remain the same: 16.9% white; 80.2% black; 2.9% other.
  • Ward 3 — existing: 20.7% white; 75.8% black; 3.5% other; proposed: 25.1% white; 71.3% black; 3.7% other.
  • Ward 4 — existing: 91.2% white; 5% black; 3.8% other; proposed: 91.3% white; 5% black; 3.8% other.
  • Ward 5 — existing: 57.7% white; 37.2% black; 5.2% other; proposed: 62.6% white; 32% black; 5.4% other.
  • Ward 6 — existing: 37.8% white; 58.3% black; 3.9% other; proposed: 36.7% white; 59.6% black; 3.7% other.

In each ward, racial population changes at most by a total of 5% of the total voting population in that ward. Citywide, Brookhaven’s voting age population is 41.4% white, 54.7% black and 3.9% other.

“This is a plan the board can consider adopting,” said Donovan.