JP Districts To Change Slightly In Redistricting

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Justice of the peace boundaries in Stone County will remain almost identical with only minor variations in districts 3, 5, and 6 following a decision by the county election commission on Monday.

Commissioners met to consider the differences between boundary plans submitted by EFS Geotechnologies, a company contracted by the county clerk’s office, and another offered by Darren Waddells of Mountain View.

Because Waddells was unable to attend Monday’s meeting, commissioners said it was impossible to consider his proposal. Too many questions would have gone unanswered, they said.

“Without him here to explain the differences, I just can’t see the difference because you can’t get it just from the map,” said Jerry Weber, chairman of the Stone County Democratic Party.

“I can’t properly evaluate it because there’s just a lack of information here,” said Commissioner Bud Thurman.

Election Clerk Joey Burnett said he believed that among Waddells’ intentions was to include as much of the city of Mountain View as possible into a single JP District, although his proposal divided the city among three districts.

In addition to setting boundaries for elected officials, redistricting can affect the cost of executing elections because of the number of voting precincts. Last year’s 2020 general election in Stone County required 99 different ballot versions for 11 voting precincts.

Burnett said Waddells’ proposal created “kind of a nightmare” scenario with a high number of splits in current precinct boundaries. He also said gathering detailed data from Waddells’ proposal would be more time consuming than working with EFS, and there is a secretary of state’s deadline set for the first week of January.

County Clerk Angie Hudspeth-Wade said the county’s current contract with EFS would result in quick information gathering that is ready to go.

Burnett said he believe EFS’s boundary strategy was keeping district numbers and deviations legal with as little alternation as possible.
“Truthfully, we’ve got pretty good boundaries now,” Burnett said. “They’re not perfect, but they’re pretty good.”

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