According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Bolivar County fell to 34,185 and the Mississippi Code Annotated Section 9-11-02 says the county is now only entitled to have two justice court judges and two constables.
“Under the 2010 census data, it had revealed that Bolivar County has less than 35,000 people. There was a state law that was established by the legislature when they set the constable districts up in 1984, that the number of justice court judges and constables will be based on population and if you were over 35,000 you would have three, and if you are under that number you had two,” said Ellis Turnage, an attorney who has been working on the county’s redistricting plans, at special meeting with the county supervisors in June.
During the meeting in June, the county supervisors approved to petition the court to allow the elections to continue under the current district lines and have a new plan in place for the next term’s elections.
“That issue was revealed when we were doing the redistricting for our supervisors, so time didn’t allow us to do the supervisor districts and do the justice court judges and constables as well,” explained Supervisor Andrew Williams. “We made an initial effort to do so. We drew up a preliminary plan but we didn’t have enough time to follow through, we were in a rush to meet the primary election.”
According to Williams, there was a court hearing on this matter on Nov. 23 and representatives of the constables and the judges were there.
“I went to the hearing also and they reached a compromise that the board of supervisors had done their due diligence trying to come up with a plan, to try to have a plan ready for this past election, so the judge made a ruling that the three justice court judges and three constables will be allowed to carry out this term in office starting January 2012 through December 2016,” said Williams. “And in the mean time, the supervisors are required to come up with a redistricting plan for just two constables and justice court judges before the next election in 2016.”
Williams went on to say it was a two-fold ruling allowing these individuals to sit the whole term of office for four years and authorizing the chancery clerk to disperse county funds from the treasury to pay the salaries of those individuals.
Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker said, “The redistricting plans for the justice court judges and constables will be set before the next election, and it will be in effect at the next election, so we have to have it ready prior to the election.”
Williams explained once they design a plan, it goes to the federal department of justice and they have to preclear the redistricting plan.
“So we’re going to start working next year on the plan so that everything will already be in place by the time the next election comes around,” he said.