The Big Split
Proposed map would send North Little Rock, Maumelle into different congressional districts
This story has been updated.
When the Arkansas State Legislature returns for a special session this week, on the agenda is Congressional redistricting.
The redistricting is done based on 2020 Census population numbers and the state’s roughly three million people are split into four, evenly populated congressional districts.
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Several maps have been proposed by various state legislators.
As it stands now, North Little Rock and Maumelle are in the same congressional district but that wouldn’t be the case with maps proposed by Republicans Alan Clark and Bart Hester.
"The official answer is no, said Maumelle Mayor Caleb Norris when asked if the city had a position on redistricting. "We haven't discussed it" and he noted that redistricting the city's wards was on the horizon and "the extent of my thoughts is geared toward's that."
» Click here to simulate redistricting in Arkansas and draw your own map: Below is an example of a map that’s doesn’t split any counties.
As for the Congressional redistricting, Clark has two maps, with one splitting Pulaski County in half, seen below, with the southern third of the county going to the 4th district, while the rest would stay in the 2nd.
Hester’s map, below, splits Pulaski County into three chunks with North Little Rock being divided into two different congressional districts and neither of them in central Arkansas with the eastern portion of the city going to the 1st that is primarily eastern Arkansas and Jonesboro, while the western portion, and Maumelle, would go to the 4th, that would become western and southern Arkansas.
Hester’s reasoning is to get the state into four equal portions, population wise, Pulaski County needs to be divided.
State Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle isn’t in favor of Hester’s proposed map.
“First, I would oppose any map that splits Pulaski County in such a way that Maumelle is placed in any District other than the 2nd Congressional District,” he wrote in a Monday email. “This is because a substantial number of Maumelle residents actually commute into areas that would be in Sen. Hester’s map.”
Lowery added that he was in favor of “keeping row crop counties together as much as possible in the 1st District” and “I am inclined to support Rep. David Ray’s map (HB1964). I also like Sen. Mark Johnson’s bill (SB729) except that it places Sebastian County in the 4th District — against the wishes of most leaders in the county who prefer to remain in the 3rd District.”
Pulaski County is the state’s largest county with 399,125 people. Little Rock is the state’s largest city at 202,591 while Maumelle, North Little Rock and Sherwood, that share common city limits, have a combined population of 116,573.
The Little Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area is right at 750,000 people but the MSA is currently split between three congressional districts now with Saline County in the 4th and Lonoke County in the 1st. While Arkansas grew slightly in the most recent Census, the reality is that the more rural parts of the state are losing population at a rapid pace.
Indeed, the 50-mile radius population of Little Rock is a little over 1 million people, or a third of the state. And it isn’t a secret that Arkansas’s rural and Republican legislators have a distaste for Little Rock and its leadership, largely made up of Democratic Party officeholders.
North Little Rock would be the most impacted by Hester’s proposed map, as starting in the Glenview neighborhood and heading east to the county line would be in the 1st. That area includes Protho Junction, as well as the new Amazon fulfillment center.
The rest of North Little Rock, from downtown, through Maumelle and to the western county line would be in the 4th. That district would also include Fort Smith and touch the state lines of Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.