Elections to be held on time, probably

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Jan. 17, 2001
Meridian city voters can look forward to casting their ballots on time this year if a bill giving nine cities the right to postpone redistricting until 2005 becomes law.
The state Senate is expected to take up the bill soon. The House version passed Monday.
A likely delay in the release of Census 2000 results was expected to create havoc for the nine cities because it would delay redrawing ward lines in time to hold city elections as scheduled.
Municipal candidates must qualify by March 1. Party primaries are in May and the general election is in June.
The legislation would grant Meridian, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Laurel, Jackson, Tupelo, Bay St. Louis and Greenwood a reprieve from having to delay elections scheduled for June. The bill would require the nine cities to redraw ward lines in time for the 2005 city elections. The U.S. Department of Justice would have to approve the changes before they could be implemented.
The news come as a relief for many city council members, who were facing the possibility of having to pay for two costly campaigns within a period of months. Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas said he was cautiously optimistic about the elections being held on schedule.
Meridian City Council President Jesse E. Palmer Sr. said city leaders had been supportive of the legislation.
According to Storms, the passage of the bill in the House cleared perhaps the biggest hurdle.
Some experts say the likelihood is that the municipal elections would still be subject to legal challenges.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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