Armed with maps and his city-issued iPad, Little spoke to the three residents who attended the Ward 3 meeting he had scheduled for Thursday evening.
Little announced the meeting just more than a week ago at a City Council meeting when the council members had their first debate about the changes. Little was not happy with them.
After the 2010 census, the city was required to review the data and determine whether the voting precincts were relatively equal. Little’s ward and Councilman Herbert Palmore’s ward were far smaller than the other two councilmen’s wards. So, the city set out to adjust the ward lines and bring the ward populations back in line with one another.
Little was concerned the proposed ward lines would decrease the percentage of black population in his ward by 6 percent. Under the proposal the white population in his ward would rise to 30 percent, from its current 24.
“I’m doing this to make sure that things sort of stay the same as far as racial balance,” said Little, who spoke for an hour on this and other topics at Thursday’s meeting.
City Manager Don Hoyt, who also attended, said the city had revised the proposed ward lines since the meeting and moved about 200 people back into Ward 4. That brings the percent change to about 3 percent, Hoyt said.
“I’m not so sure I’m satisfied with 3 percent,” Little said.
Little said he still intends to walk some of the neighborhoods and may ask for more changes. He would like to see the proposed changes make just 1 percent change in the racial balance of the population in his ward, he said.
The people at the meeting though weren’t concerned about the changes except peripherally. Two residents wanted to know if their polling places would change. Some may, Little said. The Mental Health Center was a polling place in Ward 1. But if the proposed changes are approved, the center will become part of Ward 3, Hoyt said.
“We tried to avoid moving any voting places,” Hoyt said. “But there was no way to avoid that one.”
Carol Allen, who is a Ward 3 resident, wanted to know if the changes would take effect before the primary election in March.
They will not. The changes, if approved by the council and the U.S. Department of Justice, will take effect in time for the municipal elections in August, Little told her.
Her friend, Sonny Coker, representing the Calhoun County Board of Registrars, said he’s received complaints about polling places for municipal elections being different for county elections. He asked if the city would add Donoho School to its polling places.
The county uses the school as a polling place, but the city uses other sites, Coker said.
“People got very angry and confused,” Coker said.
Hoyt said he would try to coordinate with the county when setting the polling places.
Nemire Winston, a Ward 3 resident, asked Little if he had thought about running for mayor.
Winston, a 40-year-resident of Anniston, said after the meeting he had been watching Little’s career as a politician and thought he would be a good candidate for mayor.
Little, who had said several times during the evening “if I run for re-election,” answered that he had thought about it and he’s not ruling anything out.
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.