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New district lines drawn for county lawmakers

Lincoln County is in line to once again be a three-lawmakercounty under new legislative district lines approved Wednesday bythe House and Senate.

Since redistricting following the 1990 census, Lincoln Countyhad been represented by five lawmakers. However, the Lincoln Countyportions of Sen. Lynn Posey’s District 36 and Rep. Clem Nettles’District 97 were removed under the respective Senate and Houseredistricting plans.

Now, Dist. 53 Rep. Bobby Moak and Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnettwill represent the county in the House while Dist. 39 Sen. CindyHyde-Smith will be the county’s sole senator.

“I’m pleased with my (new) district,” said Barnett, who lostpart of Lincoln County as his district’s coverage area was shiftedinto northeastern Franklin County. “I’ll run wherever they putme.”

Barnett said the average representative district population isaround 23,000. His district will be around 24,000.

“They’re all good folks. I’m looking forward to working withthem,” Barnett said, adding that he hated to lose some of hisLincoln County constituents.

In addition to the Franklin County precincts, Barnett willcontinue to represent parts of the Wesson and Beauregard precinctsin Copiah County.

In Lincoln County, Barnett’s district will include all of 17precincts while he and Moak will split five precincts. His fullcounty precincts include: Fair River, Little Bahala, Heuck’sRetreat, Big Springs, New Sight, City Hall, Old Brook, WestLincoln, Johnson Grove, Halbert Heights, Northwest Brookhaven, OldRed Star, Loyd Star, Zetus, Vaughn, Caseyville, Lipsey School,

Precincts split between Moak and Barnett are East Lincoln,Forestry, Montgomery, Roger’s Circle and Enterprise.

The 10 full precincts in Moak’s district are Alexander,Government Complex, High School, New Pearlhaven, Brignall, BogueChitto, Ruth, Norfield, Arlington and Johnson. Moak said hisdistrict resembles the “Statue of Liberty” as it reaches intoBrookhaven to pick up some predominately black precincts.

“My district in the past has been 16 percent black at the most,”said Moak, whose district will now have a black population ofaround 40 percent.

Moak’s district will include portions of five counties: Lincoln,Franklin, Amite, Pike and Lawrence. The representative said hisdistrict will stretch from the Adams County line to the Pearl Riverin southern Lawrence County.

Under the new plan, Nettles loses the half of Lincoln County’sRuth precinct that he has represented since the lastredistricting.

Nettles, who was among eight representatives to vote against theplan, was unavailable for comment. His new district strings acrossfive counties: Adams, Amite, Pike, Walthall and Lawrence.

Moak said the new district configurations were not unexpected aslawmakers had to redraw lines to account for population growth innorth Mississippi and on the coast. He said most of southwestMississippi’s population loss had been on the Mississippi River inthe Adams County area.

“Everybody figured the districts were going to get pretty largein this part of the state,” Moak said. “I don’t think it’s anythingthat anybody who watched the process did not anticipate.”

On the Senate side, Hyde-Smith’s District 39 will once againinclude all of Lincoln County. Posey currently represents theCaseyville and Old Red Star precincts, but those are shifted toDistrict 39 under the new plan.

In addition to Lincoln and Lawrence counties, Hyde-Smith islosing some north Pike County precincts but is picking up much ofsouthern Simpson County.

“That’s new ground for me,” said Hyde-Smith, adding that she wassaddened and dismayed to lose the Pike County constituents.”There’s some good people down there.”

However, Hyde-Smith said there are good people in SimpsonCounty, and she was looking forward to representing them.

The House and Senate Wednesday approved their own redistrictingplans.

The chambers are expected to rubber stamp the other’s plans andthen they will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. Ifapproved, the plans would be used in next year’s elections.

Under the Voting Rights Act, Moak said the plans cannot haveregression that would dilute black voting strength. Therepresentative said that and the population shifts were reasons whysome district appear as they do.

“You’ve got some strange districts to make up for the populationand minority percentages,” Moak said.