Redistrict plans still undecided

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

An alternative redistricting plan for Mississippi’s 52 Senatedistricts offered by the lieutenant governor contains vast changesfor Lincoln County.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant’s plan for reapportioning the Senate does notkeep Lincoln County whole, cutting out the Arlington and Johnsonprecincts in the county’s southwest corner and lumping them inanother six-county district that also serves portions of Adams,Amite, Franklin, Pike and Walthall counties. Like the initialSenate plan, Bryant’s map also has Lincoln County’s districtextending into northwest Marion County and surrounding much ofColumbia, but also pushes the zone farther east to cover sixprecincts in Jefferson Davis County.

The proposal also changes the political area’s name from District39 to District 38.

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It’s not a terrible plan, but it may need a little more work, saidDistrict 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Brookhaven, a member of theStanding Joint Legislative Committee on Reapportionment.

“I don’t think it’s a bad district, it’s just not as condensed asI’d like for it to be,” she said. “I wanted all of Lincoln andLawrence to stay intact. I think we’re going to look at all theoptions and see what the alternative plans are and continue to workon the redistricting map.”

Bryant’s map was the second redistricting map proposed for theSenate, coming a day after the Senate Elections Committee killedthe original proposal along with the House’s plan forredistricting. Hyde-Smith said a third proposal – drawn by membersof the Black Caucus – is also in the running.

“There are still many hours of debate to take place, and this mapis just one other possibility that, at this time, is not adefinite,” she said. “It may not be our final product.”

Bryant’s plan would add Lincoln County’s Arlington and Johnsoncommunities into District 37, an approximately 85-mile longdistrict that extends from Natchez to the Darbun precinct inWalthall County. Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, represents district37, which will keep its number from the current legislativemap.

Chopping off the corner of Lincoln County is not the way DistrictFour Supervisor Doug Moak would have done it.

“Obviously that’s very disappointing to me,” he said. “When youstart splitting up the precincts like that, it just makes thingsmore complicated.”

Moak said Arlington and Johnson contain almost 3,000 people andabout 2,000 voters. And while he views Dearing as a good legislatorto work with on regional issues, the voters in southwest LincolnCounty have little in common with the voters in Natchez.

“I can’t think of anything,” he said.