MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile held its first public meeting to discuss the city’s redistricting, centered on District two.
A heated debate at the first Mobile redistricting meeting, the debate coming from citizens confused by the process and noting a lack of transparency. The mayor’s office though says it is being transparent. The mayor’s plan called for four of seven districts to have more black voters than white.
Jim Flowers, a district two reverend says there needs to be a representation of this majority.
“The bottom line for me is that we are a majority-black city and the city council should reflect that majority and that’s the bottom line.”
District two has seen its percentage of black population drop over the past decade, and critics say the mayor’s proposal is based on total population number rather than voting-age numbers. District two councilman William Carroll noted this can create issues.
“It’s the voting age population that determines the district, you know you can have so many of one group. But if the voting population doesn’t match the majority of the district, then we have an issue we have to look at.”
The city says this process happened as quickly as it could. The city received the census results late in August, and the city did not want to make any changes until the new council was elected in November, which led to the launch earlier this month.
But residents feel not enough was done to get the word out, especially for District two residents who are a generally older population.
“A lot of us are not on computers and most of the people are senior people who are not computer literate, I’m barely making it myself,” said one resident.
Another District two, reverend Cleveland McFarland, said “So there wasn’t enough done to make sure the population really knew what was going on. And then last minute, too. That’s just unacceptable.”
On Feb. 12 the final plans must be submitted to the city council, then more public hearings will be held. The council has six months to vote.