South Mississippi Gains One Senate Seat In State Redistricting - - The News for South Mississippi

South Mississippi Gains One Senate Seat In State Redistricting

South Mississippians won a little and lost a little Tuesday in Jackson.

Our area of the state will pick up one seat in the state House of Representatives, but the numbers in the state Senate will remain the same under the plan the legislative redistricting committee approved on Tuesday.

Lawmakers had to redraw state legislative lines after the 2000 census because of population shifts in the state. The Coast gained population, and some Coast lawmakers say we should have gained more representation in Jackson.

Carving up Mississippi's 122 House districts and 52 Senate districts has pitted black lawmakers against white, republican against democrat, and north against south.

Sen. Scott Cuevas from Pass Christian says that north and south battle cost the Coast a new seat in the Senate.

"We didn't gain the Senate seat that we should've picked up," Sen. Cuevas said. "If you take the fifth district alone, we have 11 counties. I think we had the biggest growth in 11 counties."

Instead, Desoto County in north Mississippi picked up a Senate seat. The city, which is growing as a suburb of Memphis, also picked up a House seat, just like the Coast.

South Mississippi's new house district is described as a "republican-leaning" district in north Harrison County. The city of Biloxi kept its three house seats, one of which was in jeopardy.

All in all, House members from the Coast say it's good news for area voters and the issues they care about.

"It means another green light on the board for Coast issues, and I'm very excited," Rep. Diane Peranich from DeLisle said. "It's in a high growth area."

"The more representation we have, and the more tenure that that representation has is just going to make us stronger as a delegation," Rep. Jamie Creel from Biloxi said.

Some lawmakers from other parts of the state aren't happy with the changes because the new districts mean some incumbents will run against each other, and some members of the black caucus say the process has been too secretive.

The full house and senate must still vote on the new districts. Even after the new legislative districts are approved by lawmakers. The U.S. Justice Department must approve the plan to make sure it does not dilute black voting strength.

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