Following a population boom in Districts 7 and 4 reflected in 2010 Census data, the city of Daphne has unveiled details about its proposed plan for redistricting ahead of the 2016 municipal elections.
The proposal, for which the city paid Carey Technology $14,000, will help the city more equitably distribute its population of 21,727 throughout its seven districts, reaching a goal of an average 3,104 in each district. The city’s current district lines were drawn in 2008 using 2000 Census data. According to City Council President Pat Rudicell, the new districts will be in place for at least two voting cycles, in 2016 and 2020.
The City Council expects to hold a public hearing on the redistricting plan at its Dec. 7 meeting. It could then introduce the plan as early as its Dec. 21 regular meeting. Councilman Robin LeJeune said he hopes the city does not move too quickly with a vote right before the holidays. In an effort to ensure more openness and time for the public to understand such an important issue, LeJeune suggested holding a second public hearing or pushing the date until the first of the year.
Upon approval, the city will voluntarily submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for review. Because of recent changes to the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act, the city is not required by law to submit the plan to the DOJ, but City Clerk Rebecca Hayes said it will do so to ensure everything is above board.
According to numbers provided to the city by Carey Technology President Cynthia Feirman, four of the city’s districts will gain voters, while Districts 2, 3 and 7 will lose voters in the new plan. District 6 will see the biggest increase, with a 5 percent increase to 3,259. District 5 will gain 2.52 percent, rising to 3,182 and District 1, a heavily minority district, will rise by 2.55 percent to 3,183 making it the second most populated district. District 1 will have 1,344 black residents — or 42.22 percent of its population — eligible to vote under the proposal.
“Cynthia did a wonderful job, she has worked hard with the council to make sure the districts are where they would like them to be,” Hayes said. “I’m comfortable with what they have come up with. I look forward to getting this process done before next year’s election.”
Under current districting, Lake Forest — the city’s largest subdivision — is represented by five councilors. With the new plan District 7 will be realigned, but districts 3, 4, 5 and 6 will still be represented there.
Daphne’s newest City Councilor Angie Phillips, appointed at the previous council meeting to replace Joe Davis III, represents District 7.
“There would still be four council representatives for Lake Forest,” Phillips said. “That little sliver that was in District 7 is not that much of a change. It does seem like we still have great representation there; that’s the majority of the council.”