By PAUL SIMS
Oktibbeha County supervisors will hold a second public hearing and possibly vote on changes to the county’s Justice Court and constable districts today.
On April 4, the supervisors held the initial public hearing on changes to these three districts made necessary by population shifts recorded in the 2010 Census.
Mississippi’s Justice Courts hear small claims civil cases for matters of $3,500 or under, misdemeanor criminal cases and traffic citations outside a municipality, according to a state judicial website.
Constables serve summons for Justice, Circuit and Chancery courts, said District 5 Supervisor John L Young.
The desired population size – known as the “magic number” – for these districts in the county is 15,890. Districts 1 and 2 surpassed this number by 701 and 1,684 respectively in their previous configurations. District 3 dropped below this benchmark by 2,384.
In a plan presented April 4, officials adjusted the boundaries to get District 1 to a population of 15,339, District 2 to 16,880 and District 3 to 15,452. At 9.7 percent, the proposed plan falls under the required maximum variance percentage of 10 percent.
“It’s all about fair, equal representation,” said Young. Officials received input from both the supervisors and the public on both the supervisor and justice court and constable plans, and used the same process and abided by the same Justice Department guidelines under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Young said.
Population figures show District 2 holds the largest number of minority voters, both in the previous configuration and in the map presented April 4.
In fact, the plan presented then shows an increase in District 2’s black population from both a numeric and percentage standpoint. The district’s black residents will number 9,072, or 53.7 percent, as proposed.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer noted the minority district is still intact.
“As long you don’t have any regression in voting strength then I think it will be approved by the Justice Department,” Trainer said.
When all this is complete and the Justice Department approves the changes, the circuit clerk will notify all voters affected by any changes in their districts, Young said.
The supervisors will meet today at 10 a.m. in the second-floor boardroom of the courthouse on Main Street. The public hearing on the Justice Court and constable district map will take place at 10:30 a.m. The supervisors more than likely will vote on the plan Monday, Trainer said.