State needs to swallow redistricting pill soon

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2001

As Census 2000 numbers begin to trickle in, Mississippi legislators are scratching their heads and worrying about the redistricting medicine they need to swallow.

Despite growing by 10.5 percent in the last decade, Mississippi’s population didn’t grow as quickly as other states. The result will be the loss of one of the state’s five congressional seats&160;- an unpleasant pill to say the least.

Redistricting isn’t fun for a number of reasons, the least of which is the state won’t have as much of a voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Early projections showed that the loss of a seat was likely.

At first, state officials remained positive touting that if all the state’s residents were counted there was a chance to keep the congressional seat.

As the census count progressed, it became apparent that the loss was inevitable.

Eventually two of our current five congressional seats will have to merge. Since it’s predicted that all five candidates will run again, two incumbents will wind up facing one another. The debate over how the district lines should be drawn and which ones will be merged will be heated.

The joint committee assigned to hash out the proposed new districts consists of 19 Democrats and five Republicans, 18 whites and six blacks, and one woman and 23 men.

We hope that legislators will be able to set aside party ties, political cronyism and racial worries and draw the new lines based on the numbers.

We urge lawmakers to move quickly to solve the redistricting dilemma so that we can get on with the business of our state.

As with any unpleasant medicine, the best plan is to roll up your sleeves, close your eyes and swallow it quickly so that it doesn’t become more traumatic than it need be.