Former Sykes opponent protests new district lines

By By Chris Allen Baker / staff writer
April 12, 2002
District 4 Supervisor Q.V. Sykes and other Lauderdale County supervisors are considering new district lines that would put the home of Sykes' tough primary opponent from the 1999 election in District 2.
The former opponent, WTOK-TV cameraman Joe Norwood, protested the proposed new boundaries Thursday at a supervisors' work session. Results from the Aug. 3, 1999, Democratic Primary show that Sykes defeated Norwood by 11 votes, 537 to 526. Sykes says despite health problems he will run again in 2003 and Norwood said he is weighing his options.
Under the plan, the new boundary between District 4 and District 2 would move less than two blocks based on black voting age population identified by Census 2000. Officials said the change was necessary because District 2, represented by supervisor Jimmie Smith, required a higher black voting age percentage.
Norwood, however, took issue with the math, saying the plan gives Smith a black voting age population of 60.03 percent.
Norwood made no accusations and Sykes denied the redistricting was politically motivated. Sykes said he will oppose any map redrawn just for one person.
Sykes said Norwood remained in District 4 at one time during the redistricting process. Sykes said he was also "fighting to keep my churches," in the district. Lines drawn for Sykes' consideration for the churches had the affect of pushing Norwood out.
By whatever map is finally approved, Sykes said he will run for another term in 2003.
Supervisors expect to approve new district lines in May. The new lines for their districts and other county elected officials' districts must then go to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval.