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franklin county times

Meridian hosts redistricting forum

By Staff
MAKING HER POINT n Sally Brown of Meridian addresses the Legislature's reapportionment committee during Saturday's public hearing. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
May 20, 2001
Keep counties and precincts together, and don't lump Lauderdale County in with the Coast!
That's what the Legislature's reapportionment committee heard from Meridian-area residents during its public hearing at Meridian Community College Saturday. Sixty people signed in at the hearing and 10 addressed committee members.
Local businessman Lamar McDonald submitted a plan for redistricting with a population range of 711,153 to 711,172 between the four congressional districts.
McDonald's plan would keep Lauderdale County in the 3rd Congressional District with the northern most part of the 4th District being made up of Clarke and Jasper counties. McDonald's proposed 3rd District would end in southern Mississippi with Amite, Pike and Walthall counties. The northern tip of the district would be Oktibbeha County; and to the west, the district would include Choctaw County, cut through Attala, and take in parts of Madison and Hinds counties.
Jimmie Smith, president of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisor, and Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith expressed their hopes that the area would not be bound to a district primarily situated in the northern or southern portion of the state.
Meridian resident Sally Brown urged the committee to try to keep the integrity of county and district lines. She said elections are confusing to people when congressional districts split other lines.
Dr. Kathy Baxter of Meridian Community College told the committee she feels commonality of interest should be the highest principle for redrawing lines.
She said people in the eastern hills of Mississippi see issues differently than those who live on the Coast or in the Delta.
Baxter told the committee that if Meridian's district is "lumped in" with the Coast, it would be detrimental. She said it would be better for the Lauderdale County area to be included in an area with Tupelo because it is growing in the same industrial and commercial areas as Meridian. The Coast, she said, is growing in the areas of gaming and tourism.
Area representatives and senators on hand included state Sens. Terry C. Burton, Videt Carmichael and Sampson Jackson and Reps. Reecy Dickson, Tommy Horne, Eric Robinson, Greg Snowden and Charles L. Young, Sr.
The Saturday hearing was the 10th public hearing the committee has held. Its final hearing will be in Jackson Monday.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.