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Burton named to key redistricting panel

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Jan. 9, 2001
Newly-appointed as a member of the legislative panel which will redraw Mississippi's political boundaries, Sen. Terry C. Burton, D-Newton, said Monday he wants to help protect east central Mississippi's interests.
Burton was one of a dozen senators named by Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck to the redistricting and reapportions committee.
Burton said the committee's duties are two-fold. Redistricting means redrawing the districts so they make as much "geographic sense" as possible, and reapportioning means drawing lines so that districts have fairly equal population. Adequate minority representation is also a main concern, he said.
Burton said Mississippi's three transportation and public service commission districts will also be redrawn.
He said the process could take some time but everything must be in place by the end of the year. The committee members will do some preliminary work based on preliminary figures during the legislative session. Census figures are expected to be certified March 1.
He said redrawing legislative districts often evokes strong emotions because legislators want to ensure their districts are maintained as best they can.
Also impacted by the census figures are this year's municipal elections, and legislative efforts may allow mayoral and council candidates to run from existing districts one more time. Such a move has already been approved by the Senate Municipalities Committee.
For example, in Meridian, the deadline to qualify in municipal elections comes in the same month the census figures are expected to be certified March. Burton predicted that the new boundaries could not be drawn in time for the 2001 election, but would be used in 2005.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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