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Gulfport holds inform meeting covering possible ward redistricting

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - According to census data, Gulfport is growing, and city leaders said it’s time to reline its boundaries.

The city council is looking to redistrict its seven wards, which could impact residents for the next 10 years. The coast’s largest city has about 40% of its 72,000 residents now living north of I-10.

Councilman, R. Lee Flowers, said that he’s glad to see more population in the area, but it requires redistricting.

“We grew we had about 6,000 people in about 10 years, and we did not add them in an even manner across seven wards of the city. If you get out of balance the government, the law, requires you to re-draw your lines,” said Flowers.

Flowers said council members have three plans to choose from.

Plan one protects every incumbent, plan two brings 40 percent of the black voting age population and plan three adds to the black vote age population while giving the orange grove community more of a voice during voting.

Gulfport resident, Anthony Thompson, has said he has lived in Gulfport all his life and hopes for plan three to get approved. However, he questions if residents could get an equal share of developmental opportunities.

“If we want to go down to develop some things on Dedeaux Rd., will we get a fair share of funding? Not only that, will we get a fair share of community grant money to do development, economic develop money that is still being used from the BP oil spill? What about economic development money from Hurricane Katrina as well,” said Thompson.

Flowers said even though the council has the final say, hearing residents’ perspectives is pivotal

“The council could have voted, totally legal, without any input ever. But would have been right? No. I suspect we’ll at least come up with a schedule, and it will be a formal process. Instead of having a meeting on Tuesday morning that no one could show up to. Then saying, ‘No one is here, so no one is interested.’ Oh, they’re interested; we haven’t done our diligence to let them know that you have an opportunity to wright in on this,” said Flowers.

Four council members must vote yes for redistricting.

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