A time to speak out
May 16, 2001
Various political interests are working quietly to influence the redrawing of congressional district boundaries in Mississippi. While the state's population grew over the last decade, it did not grow enough to retain the state's five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mississippi will lose a seat and conventional wisdom holds that two incumbents will be forced to run against each other in the 2002 congressional elections.
A committee of the state Legislature is holding hearings around the state, presumably to hear citizens' views on how the new boundaries should be drawn.
The committee comes to Meridian on Saturday for a 5 p.m. session at Meridian Community College. This is a time for all concerned citizens to speak out.
One plan making its way, again, quietly and behind the scenes, would put Lauderdale County in a new congressional district dominated by the Coast. The Meridian Star believes such a district would violate every historic principle of putting people with common interests in the same district.
Lauderdale County has no casino interests. The Coast does. Lauderdale County has no commercial seafood interests. The Coast does. Lauderdale County has no oil refinery interests. The Coast does.
Lauderdale County has no commercial and military shipbuilding interests. The Coast does. Lauderdale County has neither salt water nor beaches and many of the issues associated with them are not high on the local priority list.
For all of their individual appeal, east Mississippi and the Coast have little in common, culturally, economically or historically. While there is value in these differences, congressional districts should share common bonds.
That should be a key consideration of state legislators as they visit Meridian, and a key point of every local community leader concerned enough to attend the public forum.
In order to achieve the higher quality of life many leaders believe is just around the corner in Meridian, Lauderdale County and east Mississippi, we need to retain a strong voice in Congress.