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franklin county times

Another question of leadership

By Staff
Oct. 17, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors dodged a politically sensitive issue the other day by failing to take a stand on congressional redistricting. Based on Census 2000 results, Mississippi will lose one of its current five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and an intensive process to redraw the lines is now under way.
Despite a series of public meetings around the state by a special redistricting committee including one in Meridian attended by the president of county board of supervisors, Jimmie Smith board members said Monday they did not have enough information to state a position.
Preliminary votes by members of the committee have already been taken, without consensus. The issue has been debated at length at meetings of the local Council of Governments. The process has been covered extensively in the local media. Surely, supervisors have been in touch with legislators.
There simply is no basis for the supervisors' failure to take up the issue as requested by District 3's Craig Hitt and District 1's Hank Florey.
Supervisors' views are important. Two of the redistricting plans rejected by the committee would have split Lauderdale County into two congressional districts. State Rep. Charles Young, a member of the committee, voted for splitting the county. He voted for a plan that would have put Lauderdale County into a district with the Mississippi Coast, where Lauderdale County's interests are almost certain to be minimized. State Sen. Terry Burton, also a member of the committee, voted to keep Lauderdale County intact in a new central district with other counties of common interests.
These representatives and, in fact, the entire Legislature needs input from local leaders on drawing new boundaries that will govern politics for the next decade. Who holds the congressional seat in which Lauderdale County is located is important to our area's future.
The time for Lauderdale County supervisors to take a stand on congressional redistricting is now, while they have a chance to influence the process. It's the least we should expect of our elected county leadership. Dodging the issue won't get the job done.

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