By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – State Representative Tommy Reynolds has vowed to work to keep Yalobusha County in the First Congressional District following the release of the 2010 Census figures that show the district’s size will have to be reduced.
The 2010 Census figures, released earlier this month, show the First Congressional District, which includes Yalobusha and 22 other counties, has 788,095 people. That’s 15 percent more than the Second Congressional District which encompasses much of the Mississippi Delta, where the population has decreased in the last decade.
According to Supreme Court rulings, states must configure Congressional Dis-tricts once every 10 years so that the voting power of any group of persons in the district is neither increased nor decreased. This often controversial concept is traditionally called “one-man-one-vote,” and requires the population in each of Mississippi’s four district to be as balanced as possible.
Reynolds is the House Redistricting Chairman which is responsible for drawing the new district lines. In January Reynolds introduced House Bill 853 which “freezes the districts like they are now,” according to Reynolds. While the bill is essentially a “place holder” to keep a bill active during the 2011 Legislation Session, Reynolds also has strong feeling about keeping Yalobusha County in the First Congressional District.
“We are a hill county and our power is public TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority),” Reynolds told the Herald Monday.
Reynolds added that it is important to keep Water Valley, Oxford and Coffeeville all together in the First Congressional District.
Reynolds is also adamant that redistricting be handled during the 2011 Regular Session – not in a special session or in federal court. But he cautioned that this will be no easy task.
“If a group of people want it to go to federal court, they can do it,” the 32-year veteran representative explains. “Then you have no idea what will happen.”
House Bill 853 is currently in the Elections committee in the Senate. Reynolds explained that the Bill would have to be amended to balance the population in each District. There is also a similar senate bill, 2979, which also provides language to give legislators the opportunity to make the population shifts.
In order to comply with the “one-man-one-vote” mandate, Reynolds noted that the ideal population of each district would be 741,824.