By Alyssa Schnugg
The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a new redistricting map for the city of Oxford Tuesday; however, after the U.S. Census is completed in 2020, the board may have to change the map once again.
In July, Oxford’s Chief Operating Officer Bart Robinson asked the Board to hire outside help to develop the map after initial work by the Redistricting Committee and Three River Planning and Development failed to define the six wards with no more than a 10 percent variance in the population.
The average population is 3,700. However, Robinson said the committee could not get the variance below 13 percent.
The city sought help from former city planner Ben Smith who presented a new map Tuesday that had a deviation of only 7.15 percent.
Smith told the board one challenge is having to work with U.S. Census numbers from 2010. In the last 10 years, Oxford has grown from about 22,742 in population, according to the 2010 Census, to about 28,000, Smith said.
“I had to go by the old numbers,” he said. “But that will all change again after the 2020 Census in April.”
After the 2020 Census is complete, Smith said final ward numbers that are needed to create voting districts might not be released until 2021, which is the year for the next municipal election.
“So, we will be using this (new) map for that election?” asked Alderman Janice Antonow.
Smith said that would likely be the case.
“Unless they release the final ward numbers earlier than expected,” he said.
The city has attempted to have one ward – Ward 4 – a minority-majority ward; however, Smith said that while Ward 4 is the closest of the wards to have a minority-majority, even with his changes, the Ward is 52 percent white and 48 percent minority population, which is a slight improvement from the current map that has the district at a 53 percent white and 47 percent minority population.
The Board of Aldermen approved the new redistricting map which can be viewed on the city’s website. Citizens are encouraged to review the new map to note any possible Ward changes which would affect where residents vote in upcoming elections.