District offices shift after election
By By William F. West / community editor
November 30, 2002
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering's election to Congress from a new 3rd District means he must decide where to place constituent service offices and staff.
Plans call for keeping Pickering's two offices serving East Central Mississippi, including the one in Meridian, but closing one near Columbus. The question now seems to be where he will set up shop in Southwest Mississippi, which is also part of the district.
Pickering's staff wasn't disclosing much information; however, leaders in Natchez said Pickering's top aide assured them that the congressman will open an office in their city.
Fred Middleton, board chairman of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce, said he and a Chamber delegation last week went to Pickering's Washington, D.C., office, where they met with Pickering's chief of staff, Susan Butler.
Middleton said Butler told them of the commitment to a Natchez office, which he announced to a Tuesday meeting of Natchez Mayor Hank Smith and the city's Board of Aldermen.
Shows, Parker had Natchez offices
Natchez has been represented in Congress for two terms by U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, who lost the Nov. 5 general election to Pickering. Both Shows and his predecessor, Mike Parker, maintained offices in Natchez, Middleton said.
Pickering, 39, a Republican from Laurel, and Shows, 55, a Democrat from Bassfield, were pitted against each other because Mississippi lost one of its five congressional seats after Census 2000.
Pickering represented a 3rd District that stretched from Columbus through East Central Mississippi and into Rankin County. Shows represented the 4th District, comprised mostly of Southwest Mississippi.
Pickering defeated Shows for the right to represent a new 3rd District that no longer includes Columbus but stretches from Starkville to Natchez.
Nothing official yet
Butler earlier this week referred questions about Pickering's future district offices and staff to spokesman Quinton Dickerson, who is working in the congressman's Rankin County office.
Dickerson said nothing has been officially decided or announced because Shows represents the 4th District until January.
The Meridian office employs two staff members.
Most of Pickering's Mississippi staff is in the Rankin County office. It employs seven and is located near Jackson International Airport.
Pickering will have to close his office at Golden Triangle Regional Airport near Columbus because it will soon become part of the 1st District represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker.
The Golden Triangle office has one staff member. Dickerson said the situation there will have to be looked into because Pickering still represents Starkville, also the home of Mississippi State University.
Columbus Mayor Jeffrey Rupp said he hopes to compensate for the loss of the Golden Triangle office by renting office space in his city to Wicker.
Rupp said he regrets the departure of Pickering from Columbus, the seat of Lowndes County.