Mobile City Councilman for District 6 Scott Jones favors annexing to the west of the city, but he says the conversation shouldn't be about demographics as much as it should be about the importance of attempting to annex as much territory as possible.

"If we don't annex, Mobile will become landlocked," Jones said. "West Mobile has discussed incorporating themselves, and Semmes and Theodore have talked about our annexation plans."

The city and a financial consulting company are currently studying four options on the west side of Mobile. Maps A, B, C and D show varying options and population increases. The study should conclude sometime this month, and at that time, the city council will take up the issue by voting on a resolution to allow residents in the annexation areas to vote to join the city.

Part of the discussion in city council meetings has revolved around inclusivity and race because some have expressed concerns that if Mobile takes on more territory, the areas already in need will be left out. But Jones explained that every district would get more federal funding as long as the city reaches the 200,000 residents mark.

"If we pass Map A, with as much territory as we can possibly get, and they vote to come in, each district will get an additional $1 million to add on to the $3 million capital improvement projects that we get annually," Jones told 1819 News. "So, we would increase from $3 million to $4 million a year. And the importance of that is that every councilor has the ability to earmark those funds for their district, and the city council representative has sole discretion on how that money is spent. So, that's a significant increase to every district. A million dollars is a lot of money."

Jones said annexation could take his district from around 30,000 residents to 50,000 residents, the largest increase of any other district. That's why he said the city would have to redistrict and maintain majority-minority districts in that process.

"Annexation cannot flip the current majority demographics that you have," Jones added. "That's state law with the Voting Rights Act. That's the majority as a whole. Now, what the city council has said because we just went through the whole redistricting thing a year ago then voted on that in August or so. And that was nothing but racial demographics. Black voting-age population drove that discussion and decisions. What the city council has agreed to, with regards to the districts that were in play, significantly, which was seven, primarily, is that we would maintain the four black demographic voting age population minority majority … We agreed that would remain the same.

"With the inclusivity discussion, if you look at the demographic map of west Mobile in the last 25 years, there has been a demographic shift from a white majority to a left of a white majority … When it comes to annexation, we are looking at demographics as a shot in time, a point in time, today. The purpose of annexation has nothing to do with today. The point of annexation is that we have the ability to grow into tomorrow, 30 or 40 years down the road."

With recent changes in demographics in Mobile, Jones believes trends will continue, especially in west Mobile.

"I think it's an invalid argument to sit there today and talk about demographics and inclusivity because, over time, it's going to even itself out," he said.

"I have been a part of watching annexations happen from the outside looking in. I have done this in many different cities, and this is the first one that I have participated in as an elected official. I am talking about Tampa, Nashville, Jacksonville [and] Clarksville, Tennessee. I've talked to colleagues in Huntsville. I've watched the results in Birmingham, the failure to annex, and now Mobile. But Mobile is the only city of all of those that discuss racial demographics as part of an annexation discussion. It's the only one."

The four annexation maps being considered can be viewed on the city's website.

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