City elections on track
From staff reports
Municipal elections in Meridian and eight other Mississippi cities would proceed as scheduled with current district lines under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
Local officials said today they were relieved that cities would not have to await new census figures before this year's elections. The qualifying deadline to run for municipal office is March 2. Party primaries are scheduled May 15 and the general election for June 5.
Although Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas said the news was a relief and would save the city money from not having to conduct two elections in back-to-back years, he cautioned that the nine cities were out of the woods just yet.
The new law needs approval of the U.S. Justice Department, which monitors Mississippi election laws to ensure fairness to minorities.
Musgrove signed legislation approved by both houses delaying redistricting in Meridian, Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Laurel and Tupelo.
The nine cities are all code-chartered mayor-council forms of government and by state law had been required to redraw ward lines before this year's election.
If approved by Justice, the new law will allow to use the old ward lines for this year's elections.
About 90 percent of the state's 297 cities are having elections this year.
Other forms of municipal government, including cities with alderman-mayor governments, aren't specifically required by state law to redraw before the elections.