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Meridian could gain black council ward

By By Fredie Carmichael/staff writer
Feb. 18, 2002
A key Meridian elected official believes results from the 2000 Census could lead to the creation of a third black-majority ward for the five-member city council.
Census data shows the city lost 5,352 white and gained 3,317 non-white residents in the 1990s. Meridian currently has three white- and two black-majority wards based on the 1990 Census.
City council members must redraw ward lines every 10 years based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics. The new wards must reflect population shifts and be drawn in time for the next city election in 2005.
Census data shows that Meridian's population fell 4.8 percent, from 42,003 in 1990 to 39,968 in 2000.
During that same period, the number of non-white residents grew 17.3 percent, from 19,071 to 22,388. And the number of white residents fell 23.3 percent, from 22,932 to 17,580.
The Census Bureau defines non-white residents as "blacks, Asians and others."
Meridian has contracted with the Oxford consulting firm of Bridge &Slaughter LCC to help draw the city council ward new lines.
Bridge &Slaughter has worked with the city in the past, playing a major role in efforts to redraw ward lines in 1997 after annexing of the Bonita Lakes area.
Councilman Bobby Smith of Ward 5, who also serves on the redistricting committee, said the panel has met once and is in the early stages of its work.
Palmer agreed.