Madison County leaders hoping for an advance tip on how the county will fare under legislative redistricting will have to wait with the rest of state.
“This is a sensitive matter we’re dealing with and can’t divulge” information, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn told the Madison County Business League last week during its annual League and Legislature panel discussion at the Capitol.
Rep. Bill Denny, whose district includes part of south Madison County, chairs the House committee on redistricting to fit the 2010 Census population into equitable districts. A question from moderator Chancery Clerk Arthur Johnston to Denny about the likelihood of fast-growing Madison County getting another House seat was halted by Gunn.
“We are limited in what we can say,” said Gunn, a Republican from Clinton whose district includes some of Madison County, including the areas of Annandale, Whisper Lake, Reunion, Lake Caroline and west to Flora.
With Denny in charge of the process, “be assured you’re in good hands,” Gunn said.
Rep. Rita Martinson, whose district lies entirely within south Madison County, said she has worked for years to get a second district drawn solely in the heavily populated south end.
On the other side of the Legislature, Sen. Josh Harkins, whose district includes a portion of Madison County, said he expects to see his district limited to Rankin County under a new map.
“The bulk of my district is in Rankin County,” said the Flowood resident, adding that he has business interests in Madison County. “The odds are that it will draw back to a Rankin County seat only.”
If the final redistricting plan does leave him out of Madison County, Harkins said, he still intends to watch out for the county’s interests.
Sen. Will Longwitz, a Madison County resident, said the southern part of the county has been split among several district. “The southern part has been cut up and split up in the last two redistrictings.
“It’s important to keep it as cohesive as we can,” said Longwitz about his district, which includes most of Ridgeland and Madison west of I-55 and northeast Jackson. “We need to make sure we keep our communities of interest together.
“It will be a back and forth process, but we’ll get what’s in the best interest of the county at the end of the day,” he said.
BY LUCY WEBER • MADISON COUNTY HERALD • MARCH 27, 2012