Hinds supervisors again table action on closings, mergers in Black precincts

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Photo courtesy of Hinds County Chancery Court/Facebook

New county administrator, public works director appointed

Hinds County District 4 Supervisor Wanda Evers made a bold move at Monday’s regular board meeting. She requested the supervisors table an agenda item that called for a vote to rescind any further action on the highly controversial proposal to close or merge a number of voter precincts in the 3rd and 4th districts.

Evers and District 3 Supervisor Deborah Butler Dixon were the original sponsors of the proposed closing and merger of eight or ten precincts that was first brought up at a February 5 board meeting. County Democratic leaders spoke out against such a proposal, labeling it a Republican move to restrict Black voter access and a new form of “poll tax” because of the time voters would face standing in line after such a merger and the loss of pay for their time away from work. Poll taxes are illegal under both state and federal law.

Although Dixon had announced on several occasions well ahead of the April 1 board meeting her intentions to either rescind, or at least review proposed precinct merger/closings in District 3, she neglected to bring up the issue when given the platform Monday. It was Evers who addressed the precinct closings during the time allotted to her on the meeting agenda.

Evers said that on February 5, the board held a vote in support of closing and merging a fairly long list of precincts in West Jackson. “We are going to table that until further notice,” she said at Monday’s meeting. “I have done my investigation work.” She tabled the matter for an unspecified future discussion.

Evers, the board vice president, also made the motions to appoint Interim Hinds County Public Works Director Dion Quinn as the official Public Works Director; to appoint Lure Dean Berry as County Administrator; and Ashley Floyd to the Hinds County Human Resource Agency Board. All passed with a 4-0 vote. District 5 supervisor Bob McGowan was absent.


The merger and closing of voter precincts in the two West Jackson precincts were first proposed at the February 5 regular board meeting by Pete Perry, the former chair of the Hinds County Republican executive committee.

Perry called for merging Precincts 54, 55, 56, and 57 with Precinct 62; merging 60 and 61 with Precinct 21; merging 73 and 69; and merging Precinct 74 with Precinct 92.

Dixon said she supported the proposed mergers because it would save the county a great deal of money needed for staffing and ballot security.

Evers said she voted to support these changes also in February before she knew the real impact they would have on the voters in the two districts.

State Rep. Zakiya Summers (Dist. 68 – Jackson) said nearly all the proposed changes were for precincts in her state legislative district, which is overwhelmingly Democratic.

“All of the precincts that are in the West Jackson part of the district are in my neighborhood,” Summers said. “When she (Butler Dixon) recognized Pete Perry to make the motion, and the board went along with it, that was just extremely egregious to me.”

Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee chair Jacqueline Amos says the current move to close or merge a large group of predominantly Black voting precincts is nothing new.

“This is something that has been brought to the table and tried on many occasions for several years by the Republican Party,” Amos said. “My stance has always been the same: Why are you so interested in closing and merging precincts in the Black community and not one time has there ever been a conversation regarding merging precincts east of I-55, where there are several precincts on the same street including Old Canton Road. And some of the precincts there are back to back?


In a March 7 Jackson Advocate interview, Butler-Dixon said she was more concerned about the effort to reduce the size of her District 3 during the redistricting process than she was about the proposed action to redefine the precincts within her district.

Dixon claimed that under the redistricting that took place after she won election in November 2023, her predecessor, Credell Calhoun, “cut me out of most of my district. And most of the voters where I live are now in the 4th district. I’ve got one precinct, or partial precinct.” She named the Timberlawn precinct as her one remaining precinct.

“I don’t have but one precinct – Timberlawn. All the neighborhoods where my children grew up – Timberlawn, Southwest, and Forest Hill – all of that is in District 4 now,” she said during the March 7 interview.


Butler-Dixon’s account of the redistricting of District 3 was disputed by her two immediate predecessors – former one-term supervisor Credell Calhoun (2020-2023) who lost to Butler Dixon; and his wife, Peggy Hobson Calhoun, who served 27 years (1992-2019) as District 3 Supervisor.

“The only partial district that was taken out of District 3 was the rural part of Springridge,” Credell Calhoun said in a recent telephone interview. “What Deborah Dixon was talking about was the lower part of Brookhollow. And that’s been in District 4 forever. It’s never been in District 3.

“I’ve campaigned for Peggy since she first started. And we never campaigned in the lower part of Brookhollow because it was in District 4, always. For 32 years. It may have been in District 3 early on, say 40 years ago. But since Peggy was elected, it’s never been in it.”

Peggy Calhoun also supported her husband’s statement: “District 3, in fact, was 100 percent in the City of Jackson, and that part he referenced, on Springridge Road, was a split precinct which was in the rural area of Hinds County. Prior to the 2010 redistricting, District 3 was 100 percent in the city of Jackson.

State law requires that the population of each supervisor’s district must be within five percent of an approximately equally divided whole. It was the board of supervisors that conducted the redistricting, Calhoun said. “There wasn’t a redistricting committee per se,” he said. “The contractor who did the redistricting map for us was Attorney Carroll Rhodes.

“The only changes made in District 3 and District 4, is that District 4 picked up the rural part of Springridge, and that went to 4. And Clinton (precinct 3) came to District 3,” Credell Calhoun said. “Those were the only changes made to District 3 and District 4. That was because I had too few people, and District 4 had too many people. I went in and picked up District 3 in Clinton to get my population up. The split box of Springridge would have put me over the number I should have had. So, the redistricting people took that and put it over into District 4 to keep the balance.”

Peggy Calhoun says Butler Dixon was also wrong in saying that “the redistricting committee cut most of her district into a patchwork plot” that had essentially left her out of her own district.

“You can take an old map of the voting precincts and lay it side-by-side with the new map of the voting precincts in District 3 and you will see geographically that only the Springridge box was taken out of District 3, the rural part, but the rest of the precincts remained the same.”


Peggy Calhoun foresees massive confusion and chaos for the voters of District 3 if the precinct changes are allowed.

“There are all kinds of ramifications,” she said. “We’re talking about Jayne Ave., the Police Training Academy, Lake Elementary, and the Livingston Park Zoo, along with the consolidation of Lynch Street. All five of those precincts will go to Black’s Chapel, along with people who already vote at Black’s Chapel. That’s about 5,605 active voters. That’s one box.

“When you have 5,600 active voters trying to get onto and off a major thoroughfare, which is Robinson Road, that area will not accommodate a whole lot of voters, poll workers, and poll booths.” She also quoted a member of the elections committee who said there probably would not be an increase of poll workers at the Black’s Chapel mass precinct site.

“Election Commissioner Jermel Clark said six poll workers are assigned to Black’s Chapel,” she said. “You’re going to have only six poll workers there trying to assist 5,600 voters. You’re not going to have any additional booths. That means voters, first of all, will get caught up in a traffic jam. Senior citizens can’t walk from the other locations. Even those who drive, or even younger people, are going to get bogged down in a traffic jam. So that will be a discouragement.”


Peggy Hobson Calhoun said the board has adopted a policy of leaving county citizens’ voices off the agenda of their meetings.

“They don’t allow public comment at any of their official board meetings,” she said. “If the citizens want to comment on any agenda item, the policy was made that the general public can only come on the days they conduct work sessions. And the general public cannot speak at the beginning of any particular subject matter. We must wait until the end of the work session. We are only allowed three minutes. And after that, if you have any further comment or questions you raise your hand. Otherwise, you get ignored by the board president unless another supervisor says, ‘I want to hear from that citizen who’s raising his hand.’”

Calhoun said such a practice might be a violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

“At no regular county meeting can the general public speak,” she said. “And I think that’s a bad policy.”

The board did not announce when – or if – it will be taking up the issue of the precinct closings and mergers again.

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Hinds supervisors again table action on closings, mergers in Black precincts

By Earnest McBride
April 8, 2024