Supervisors Face Common Dilemma

Census numbers on which redistricting is based will be finalized in February 2011. The qualifying deadline for candidates in statewide elections has been pushed back to June 1, instead of coming in March.

The results from this year's census count will be used to determine whether supervisors in each county will have to redraw district lines.

Some counties don't expect the census numbers to change enough to require redistricting, while others anticipate change, but not enough to cause a problem.

"The population of Clarke County is around 8,000 people," said Clarke County supervisor, Arthur Nelson. "And if we get the census report back in time, we'll be able to do it."

"Hopefully, everything stays the same and we can stay in the border," said Wayne County supervisor, Gaston Hutcherson, who added he doesn't know if that's a realistic hope or not.

However, there are some counties that, even prior to the release of census results, officials say they know district lines will have to be redrawn.

"We think we're going to have a little growth," said Neshoba County supervisor, Marty Sistrunk. "Probably have a little redistricting issues, we feel like, going on."

"The Hispanic population has picked up, I'll say, considerably," said Jackie Bradford, Scott County supervisor. "So, we anticipate it."

"We've probably got 40,000 people more in the county today than we had 10 years ago, during the last redistricting," said Tommy Lewis, DeSoto County supervisor. "So, we're going to have to move those numbers around. Move some lines around to be compliant."

Supervisors say they are concerned that one month will not be enough time to redistrict lines where there has been major population growth or decline. They fear this could force some counties to have to have a second election, once the final redistricting lines are approved.

"It's out of our hands, to a certain extent, because we have to abide by the March 1 deadline and approved by the Justice Department," said Derrick Surrette, executive director of the MAS. "This only occurred 20 years ago. We can look back and see what happened at that time, but that's been a long time ago. What will happen this time. Who knows?"

Statewide elections in Mississippi will be held in 2011, but county offices are also on the ballot.

The Mississippi Legislature would have to change the qualifying deadline for county elections. That has not happened so far.


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