Defining politics for the next decade
JULY 4, 2001
A legislative committee is moving closer to redrawing the boundaries that will define politics in Mississippi for the next decade. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is likely to call a special session later this summer, at which time all of the cards gathered during a series of public meetings will be laid on the table.
While you would like to think the process is based on fairness, common interests and historical context, don't be deceived: Redistricting is a political war and there will be winners and losers.
The process isn't over, but from all indications Meridian is still being paired with the Gulf Coast in at least one major plan. The most likely scenario still pits incumbent U.S. Reps. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., and Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., against each other, but nothing is final.
Basic mathematical calculations will be employed as members of the special committee step toward a proposal to be presented to the Legislature. And the single most important element of the calculation is black voting age population.
Can Meridian grow if placed in a congressional district with the Mississippi Coast? Yes. Can Meridian grow if it fails to solve a pressing local dilemma involving incentives for new residential development inside city limits? Yes, if it chooses to annex new territory instead of making it easier to develop new subdivisions inside current city boundaries.
Newly-sworn in Meridian city officials made much of their hope for unity, common purpose and working together toward a bright future. Finding innovative ways to attract new residential development would be a good start.
Meridian must be able to hold its own against areas of Mississippi that are growing at a much faster rate, and that's going to require creative new strategies no matter in which congressional district the city eventually falls.