Pickering hopes politics taken out of redistricting

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Aug. 14, 2001
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering is hoping state legislators will redraw congressional districts based on what's best for the East-Central Mississippi region rather than what's best for party politics.
A 24-member state legislative committee is expected to recommend new congressional districts this fall. After that, the state House and Senate are expected to consider the committee's proposal in a special session later this year.
Legislators redraw congressional district lines every 10 years to represent population shifts and make sure each district contains roughly the same number of people. Because other states grew at a faster rate the last 10 years, Mississippi will lose one of its five congressional districts.
That move is expected to pit Pickering against a sitting incumbent from another district when congressional elections take place next year. One scenario would pit Pickering, the 3rd District congressman, against U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, a Democrat and the 4th District congressman.
Another would pit Pickering against U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat and the 5th District congressman. That possibility would stretch South Mississippi's 5th District north to include Meridian.
Pickering said an area like Lauderdale County wouldn't mix as well with other areas of the state as it would with communities in a Central Mississippi congressional district.
State Sen. Videt Carmichael, D-Meridian, said as of now all the talk about redistricting is purely speculation. But, he said, he wanted the Lauderdale County area included in a Central Mississippi congressional district.
Pickering also told Lauderdale County leaders at the COG meeting that renovation of The Grand Opera House will "create an economic development and an educational corporate center."
With top-notch entertainers coming to the opera house and the casino in nearby Philadelphia, he said, the Meridian area has the chance to create an "entertainment corridor" and attract more tourists.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.