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New legislative lines don’t please everyone

Lincoln County lawmakers will be getting acquainted with morevoters in surrounding counties under new legislative districtslines approved last week in the House and Senate.

Both Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett and Dist. 53 Rep. Bobby Moakpicked up parts of Franklin County under the new lines. Moak isalso picking up a portion of Pike County for his district thatstretches from the Adams County line to the Pearl River in LawrenceCounty.

Moak said last week his district resembles the “Statue ofLiberty” against the New York City skyline. Barnett’s district, forthe most part, would be the “sky” in that scenario.

On the Senate side, Dist. 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s district isfairly unchanged. She is, though, losing her Pike County area andwill be acquainting herself with some “new ground” in SimpsonCounty.

To account for population growth on the coast and in thenorthern part of the state, and some population losses in the rivercounties of southwest Mississippi, lawmakers said districts in thisarea were expected to become fairly big.

While Hyde-Smith, Moak and Barnett mostly were pleased withtheir new districts, some lawmakers were not happy with theirs.Judging by their configurations, like Dist. 97 Rep. Clem Nettles’and even ones like Moak’s, that’s understandable.

Nettles, who is losing a sliver of Lincoln County that he hasrepresented since the last redistricting, will see his districtsnake across an area from western Adams County to the JeffersonDavis County line in Lawrence County. The representative fromJayess will have slender parts of five counties in hisdistrict.

Lawmakers, and more importantly voters, deserve some kind ofgeographical connection in terms of representation.

Some Pike Countians have used a similar argument in theirefforts to be able to elect a state senator from their county,instead of two from Natchez and one from Brookhaven. Although thecounty has only two senators under the new plan, two-thirds of itis in the four-county District 38 and Pike Countians there maystand a better chance now.

With districts snaking across four counties or more, it’squestionable at best whether any geographical connections are madeunder the new lines. Moak saw “Liberty” in his new district, butit’s too bad Nettles can’t say the same.