By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
In the county redistricting effort, Pearl River County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, Jr., on Monday told supervisors that establishing at least one supervisor’s district with a minority majority seems almost impossible, because Pearl River County minority neighborhoods are so dispersed now.
District One had a minority population in 1993 of 57 percent, when it was first formed under federal court order, and by 2000 when it was redrawn, based on new census figures, contained only 51 percent minority population, said Lumpkin.
Now the minority District One is below the norm by 2,000 residents and must take in more population, but reaching minority neighborhoods, and residents, with new lines is more difficult now because of minority residential dispersal patterns.
Residential housing patterns for minorities have changed. Minorities no longer cluster in the same neighborhoods but are better assimilated in housing patterns, at least in the county’s rural areas.
Lumpkin said drawing lines to one black neighborhood took in a census block that only had three black families, but to get there, necessitated taking in 10 times that many whites in other surrounding census blocks. Federal guidelines require officials drawing the lines to follow census blocks. They cannot be broken up.
The county must redistrict every 10 years, based on the latest census figures to make sure each supervisors’ district is balanced by population. Each of the five supervisor districts this time, based on figures from the 2010 census, must approximately 11,000 in population, plus or minus 10 percent.
However, Lumpkin said District One, which splits Pearl River County down the middle, and has traditionally been the minority majority district, currently has a population of 9,000 and must be increased by almost 2,000 residents to bring it into line.
Supervisor Anthony Hales, Sr., the first black ever elected to the board of supervisors, has been District One’s representative ever since the district was originally formed in the early 1990s under federal court order.
Lumpkin, who outlined the situation for the board along with county planner Ed Pinero, Jr., gave the current population figures for the five supervisors’ districts:
Besides Hales District One 9,000, Joyce Culpepper’s District Two has 11,319, Dennis Dedeaux’s District Three has 10,858, J. Patrick Lee’s District Four has 12,488 and Sandy Kane Smith’s District Five 12,122.
Lumpkin said Districts One, Two and Three need adjustments, but Districts Four and Five will need to be decreased by significant amounts.
The problem arises when lines are drawn, which must follow census blocks, to take in nonwhite neighborhoods. To reach the minority neighborhoods, and residents, nonminority neighborhoods, and residents, have to be taken in, which skews the minority district count.
Lumpkin said the county will do the best it can to redraw the districts based on new census data, and to carve out a minority district, then the county will hold public hearings on the proposed plans, adjust it if needed, and then submit the plan to the board of supervisors for approval and then to the U.S. Justice Department for its perusal and approval.
He said no dates have been set for the public hearings.