Area on front lines of redistricting debate
By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
May 15, 2001
The biggest loser in Mississippi's loss of a congressional seat could be Lauderdale County and East Central Mississippi, state Rep. Charles Young Sr. said Monday.
Young, D-Meridian, is on a 24-member legislative committee that will propose new boundaries for congressional districts reducing Mississippi's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives from five to four. State Sen. Terry Burton, D-Newton, is also a member of the influential committee.
Young said he fears the interests of East Central Mississippi could fade if the area is placed in a district with larger population centers.
Areas along the Tennessee-Mississippi line, such as DeSoto County, experienced rapid growth over the last decade, as did the Gulf Coast region, where casinos sparked a population boom. Young said if Lauderdale County is placed in a district with one or more of those densely populated regions, its importance to a congressman could be severely reduced.
State Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, echoed Young's sentiments, saying the most populated region in a congressional district is likely to receive greater support.
Young predicted that the Delta district of U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the coastal district of U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., will largely be preserved. That could leave Meridian and Lauderdale County in the midst of the other three districts that will have to somehow be re-drawn.
Even so, one plan being considered would place Lauderdale and Clarke counties in the same district as the Coast.
The current district of U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., covers east-central Mississippi and U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows' district includes much of southwestern Mississippi. U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has most of the northern and northeastern portions of the state.
The legislative committee that will recommended changes has held several public forums in other cities. The Meridian visit comes Saturday at 5 p.m. in the Emma McCain Theater at Meridian Community College.
Young said it is vital that local residents turn out and give committee members suggestions on how they feel the redistricting plan should be implemented.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at email@example.com.