MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — Under the Florida constitution counties must redistrict every 10 years.
Tuesday morning, Jackson County commissioners began that process.
But none of the current county employees have done this before.
“It’s a challenge, but I think we can solve the problem,” Board Chairman Jim Peacock said. “It’ll take us a little time, but I’m confident that with the five of us working together, we know the county.”
Right now districts two, four, and five each populate over 11,000 people.
But district one only has about 5,900 voters, and district three only has about 7,900.
The goal is to try and make all of the districts about the same size population-wise.
According to the 1986 consent order, the county must have a district that is majority black.
Commissioners requested County Attorney Michelle Blankenship Jordan to go to the federal court to see if the court order is still valid.
“We just have to now look at the numbers and make sure that we are providing equal representation for everyone,” Peacock said.
The districts not only determine where residents vote but also which school board member represents them.
Blankenship suggested commissioners hire a consultant to help with all the logistics and legalities.
But some commissioners are opposed to hiring one because it could cost up to $40,000.
That money wasn’t budgeted.
“There’s nobody who knows the county any better than the people who live here and as a county commissioner, I have a very good idea of where people live in my district,” Peacock said. “All of these other commissioners are the same way.”
Blankenship said they could lose more money than a consultant would cost by not using one.
County commissioners and school board members plan to dive deeper into redistricting next Tuesday night at 5:30.