One cursory look at the proposed redistricting map for Jones County led Circuit Clerk Concetta Brooks to this conclusion: “It’s going to be a nightmare.”
That’s what she told the Board of Supervisors in a special meeting on Thursday. Part of the reason for the meeting was to discuss the plan, but the board couldn’t get into much detail because some of the data that was needed wasn’t available, as representatives from Clark Engineers were out due to sickness.
There were already 16 split districts in the Shady Grove precinct alone, Brooks said. The proposed map has 20 splits — meaning some people on different roads in the same voting precinct will have different county, state and federal officials. That creates a lot of confusion for voters and for election officials, she said.
Redistricting is done every 10 years, and the latest proposals are based on 2020 Census figures. It appears that Beat 4 has too many people and Beat 5 doesn’t have enough in the proposal, supervisors said.
There were also concerns that the county’s two Congressional districts — District 3 and District 4 — were being further divided. In the past, only a handful of residents were in District 3, which is currently seated by Rep. Michael Guest. The majority of Jones County is in District 4, which has been seated by Steven Palazzo for more than a decade.
There are also proposed changes that would create more state and federal lawmakers with part of Jones County in their district.
The concern with that, several political watchers said, is that it would dilute the county’s representation because no single lawmaker would have a majority of constituents in Jones County.
Legislators had a series of meetings to get the public’s input before creating the new maps and they will be subject to public approval before being finalized.