By Ray King

A special called meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council Thursday night approved new ward boundaries that were necessary because of results of the 2020 census.

The city hired Optimization Direct to draw the four wards and the results of that work was on display during the meeting.

The goal was to create wards of near equal population and according to a summary prepared by the company, each ward will now average 9,730 people.

Changes from the 2010 ward map saw voting districts in Wards 1 and 3 being moved to Ward 4 and voting districts in Ward 2 being moved to Ward 1. Pine Bluff is divided up into 109 voting districts.

Fourth Ward Council member Steven Mays, who is up for reelection in 2022 was asked if his campaign style would change because of the changes in the wards, particularly adding people who were represented by other council members in the past.

In addition to adopting the ordinance, the council approved an emergency clause so that the ordinance can go into effect immediately. That was done so that the new ward map can be sent to the Jefferson County Election Commission and the Jefferson County Clerk before the filing period for municipal, county, state and congressional races begins Feb. 22.