Smyrna moves forward with redistricted ward map

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Sep. 21—SMYRNA — This week, the Smyrna City Council gave initial approval to new district lines for the city's seven council wards.

The vote to implement the new map was 5-0, with Councilman Lewis Wheaton absent and Mayor Pro Tem Tim Gould filling in for Derek Norton.

The city was forced to undergo redistricting after the 2020 census, as population changes led its ward map to fall out of compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The federal law says, among other rules, that a person's vote in each voting district must be roughly equal to a person's vote in another district.

In Smyrna's case, the population of each council ward must be within 10% of the ideal population for each ward, a number determined by statistical analysis undertaken following the census. The ideal population for each ward in Smyrna was 7,992 people as of July, according to legal experts from Mississippi law firm Butler Snow, whose aid city officials enlisted in the redistricting process.

Councilman Travis Lindley said Monday he and his peers had come to unanimous agreement about the redistricted map for the city's seven wards after months of discussion. However, the changes mean he and other council members will no longer represent communities they have gotten to know well during their terms.

"I hate to lose some of the communities that I've proudly represented for four years, but I would like all the wards to be equal, and the map that we passed tonight does exactly that," Lindley said.

According to the new map, no ward deviates by more than 5% from the ideal number of residents in each ward (Ward 2, represented by Glen Pickens, deviates the most from the ideal number, by 4.74%).

Following Monday's vote, a required second vote on the new map is scheduled for the next council meeting, on Oct. 3.