Yesterday, members of the Arkansas House debated and ultimately passed a congressional redistricting map that splits Pulaski County into three separate districts, and splits Little Rock into two.
One supporter of the map, Rep. Jim Wooten (R-Beebe), said if Pulaski County residents didn’t like it, they should have spoken up. He said he hadn’t heard from a single Pulaski County resident objecting to the plan.
But that’s simply not the truth.
At least two Pulaski County residents emailed Wooten on September 30 to oppose any map that would split Pulaski among districts.
“We believe that splitting Pulaski County is harmful because the Little Rock metro area is a community of interest and should be left whole. We also believe that the split is a way to dilute Black voting strength,” Little Rock residents Donna Massey and Jim Lynch wrote in the email they co-signed as representatives of the groups Arkansas Community Organizations and Arkansas Community Institute.
“We favor those proposals that would combine Pulaski County with Jefferson and other Delta and south Arkansas counties because it would give a community of interest, long neglected by both parties in Arkansas, a stronger voice in state and national policies,” their message to Wooten said.
When asked about the email Thursday, though, Wooten doubled down.
He said he got “not one phone call, not one email, not one text from people who said they were from Pulaski County that identified themselves.” And technically, that’s true. Neither Massey nor Lynch included their physical addresses in their email signature. But come on.
Indivisible Little Rock and Central Arkansas members have since emailed all members of the legislature, Wooten included, to oppose the map that’s now been approved by the legislature but appears destined for a legal challenge.
But Wooten told us Thursday his statement stands.
“I can say whatever I want to from the well. If they don’t like it, so be it,” he said.