Final proposed redistricting plan presented to City of Brookhaven

Published 10:00 am Friday, August 4, 2023

The final redistricting plan for Brookhaven’s wards has been presented to the Board of Aldermen.

Richard Donovan of Slaughter and Associates presented the plan and map at a public hearing prior to the board’s Tuesday night meeting. This is the sixth plan brought before the board, with each having undergone changes to accommodate input from aldermen and meet the requirements of the law.

“The reason we’re here is to get a good distribution amongst your wards, based on the 2020 census,” Donovan said.

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With 1,946 as the ideal population for each of the city’s voting wards, Donovan reminded the board that the law requires there be no more than a 5 percent deviation above or below that number for each ward, and no more than a 10 percent deviation when all wards are added together. Donovan said all the numbers looked good and were within the maximum ranges allowed by law.

“So we are compliant in all the wards?” asked Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore.

“Yes, sir,” Donovan said.

“So, the biggest change is going to be to Ward 3, population-wise?” Ward 3 Alderman Charles Caston Sr. asked.

“That doesn’t reflect the true numbers, though, because it doesn’t include Mill Creek,” said Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Henning, referring to the subdivision off South First Street which opened in 2021.

“That’s good, because even with those numbers it’s still within the legal requirements,” said Donovan.

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 1,887; voting age population moves from 1,300 to 1,393.
  • 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 2,027; voting age population moves from 1,469 to 1,521.

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: 12.2% white; 84.1% black; 3.7% 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: 36.6% white; 59.7% 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.

Donovan recommended the board wait until the next regular meeting to vote on adopting the plan, to make sure no further changes were proposed.