Committee hears from public about redistricting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NATCHEZ — There were more maps and figures Tuesday evening than there was public opinion when the panel in charge of reshaping state legislative and congressional district lines met on the Alcorn Natchez campus.

The Standing Joint Committee on Reapportionment convened a public hearing at the Graduate School of Business Tuesday night.

Citizens were given the opportunity to speak to the panel concerning the realignment of legislative districts based on the 2010 Census count.

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Panel chairman Sen. Terry C. Burton, R-Newton, said the panel has been traveling the state gathering public opinion from the Delta to the Gulf Coast.

“We welcome and encourage input from everyone,” Burton said to the small crowd. “Whatever you have, even if it is a map of how you want to see the districts divided, send it.”

Burton mentioned that the committee will be accepting suggestions, ideas and maps by e-mail at or by mail at: The Standing Committee on reapportionment, c/o Ted Booth, P.O. Box 1204, Jackson, MS 39215-1204.

Of the 20 people attending, only Sen. Bob Dearing, Rep. Sam Mims and Rep. Angela Cockerham addressed the committee.

“I don’t envy your task,” Dearing said. “I have served where you are.”

Maps and figures offered by the committee showed that most of the area districts in Southwest Mississippi are estimated to lose population when the 2010 Census numbers are submitted to Congress at the end of the year. While the state as a whole is expected to gain in population, Southwest Mississippi is not expected to benefit from those gains.

Sen. Dearing’s district is expected to lose nearly 2,000 people. Dearing hopes the panel will transfer some people from the Foster Mound precint in Adams Couny into his district to make up the deficit.

Rep. Mims district is not expected to lose as many voters. Still, Mims told the panel that he hopes they have one goal in mind.

“I just ask that we have a fair plan for all legislators. We want (the redrawn districts) to be equitable in size.”

Sen. Burton and Vice Chairman Rep. Tommy Reynolds said they are aware of the challenges and that they will make sure the districts are as equitable as possible without splitting up too many precincts.

Most of all, Burton said the panel is committed to getting a fair plan submitted to the Justice Department for approval before legislators have to qualify for re-election in June 2011.

“The voters deserve for us to do our job and do it right,” Burton said.