Mississippi losing voice in Congress

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2000

Census 2000 figures released Thursday will leave Mississippi with one less voice in the U.S. House of Representatives. And though the loss was expected, local and state officials said they were still disappointed.

&uot;I hate to hear that Mississippi is going to lose a seat,&uot; Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said.

Smith regrets the timing of the census which concluded just months before Nissan announced plans to build an automotive plant in the central part of the state.

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Through economic growth spurred by the plant, &uot;it could very well be that we get that seat back (in 2010),&uot; Smith said.

Smith said the census numbers only reinforce his belief that Natchez and Adams County are losing population, and efforts to improve economic development must continue.

Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., said the loss of one seat – bringing the state’s representation in the House down to four – means a loss of voice in Congress.

&uot;It’s one less vote, and it’s a shame,&uot; the 4th Congressional District representative said.

Not only do the new census apportionments cost Mississippi in terms of representation, but will result in a loss of federal funding, which is based on population, Shows said.

State Rep. Andrew Ketchings, R-Natchez, also lamented a loss of federal funding due to the census’ findings.

&uot;It cuts down on federal funds, pretty much across the board,&uot; Ketchings said.

Now it falls to the state Legislature to begin the often heated process of redrawing district lines.

Ketchings said some models have already been suggested, including one that uses the Mississippi River as a boundary.

Ketchings is taking a wait-and-see attitude about how Congressional district lines will be redrawn, but agrees with predictions that Shows will be pitted against Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss.

But since population also effects state districting lines, it is possible that Natchez could lose one of its two state representatives – a possibility that worries Ketchings.

&uot;I’m just curious to see how my own district will come out,&uot; he said.