by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – thegazebogazette@gmail.com or hdawkins@supertalk.fm

After approval by the city Board of Aldermen February 15, 2022, the administration of Mayor Jimmy Rafferty began working with the Gulf Regional Planning Commission (GRPC) to create a map for each ward in the city of Pass Christian as required by federal law.

Two alternative maps were developed to ensure that each ward would be close to the same amount of residents. Each municipality throughout the country is legally required to conduct this exercise every ten years with the assistance of the United States Census.  The data taken from the 2020 Census equaled out to 5,686 citizens full-time.

Following the work with the GRPC Commission, the city chose to provide a public hearing to discuss the maps to the general public at the Pass Christian Municipal Court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024.  Once Rafferty’s brief address to the audience, City Attorney Malcolm Jones discussed the changes of each map per ward before the audience questions.

Of the 5,686, Ward 3 has grown by more than 38% population while every other ward has diminished by at least 10%.

The Redistricting maps were developed by GRPC acknowledging the diversity breakdown in certain neighborhoods and ward.  Once the public hearing was closed, Ward 3 Alder- man Kirk Kimball disclosed his displeasure with the maps and how the calculation of the Census was done during the height of the pandemic. According to Kimball, no real accuracy can be determined so the maps shouldn’t be changed.

In response, Jones agreed with Kimball on the pandemic concerns, but explained most of the current ward maps have not been changed since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 where there is a huge shift in the population. With Jones recommendation, the acceptance of the GRPC Map of the board’s choice will be placed on the next agenda. Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich was absent.

Front Photo:  Pass Christian City Attorney Malcolm Jones discussing one new optional map put together by Gulf Regional Planning Commission for redistricting that is scheduled to be completed before the fall of 2024. Photo submitted by Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP.