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Redistricting impact on SW La.

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, redistricting is required for the districts of the various city, parish, and state elected officials. Affected will be the U.S. House, state Senate, state House, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and Public Service Commission. The Louisiana State Supreme Court election districts may also be re-drawn but it is not a requirement.

Each city and parish will be responsible for re-drawing the lines for their election districts. There will be shifts in council and police juror districts based on the population growth in certain areas.

The Louisiana Legislature’s “roadshow” to hear from the public about the redrawing of the state’s political maps is more than halfway done. A total of 11 different meetings are being held around the state. This is requiring a large amount of time and effort for the Joint House/Senate Governmental Affairs Committee chaired by state Rep. John Stefanski of Crowley and by Sen. Sharon Hewitt of Slidell.

The meeting to be held in Lake Charles will be Dec. 15 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and will be held in the Tritico Theater on the campus of McNeese State University. It is important that our area of the state be heard. We urge you to attend and have your say. The SWLA Alliance will be there as we were at the Lafayette meeting in late October. We at The Chamber SWLA are joining with the Jeff Davis Chamber, The Acadia Chamber, and One Acadiana in Lafayette to advocate for a U.S. House district that keeps as much of the Lafayette and Lake Charles metros in the same congressional district. Our region of the state has grown and unfortunately north Louisiana has lost population. In order to achieve roughly the same number of people in each house district, there will need to be major shifts. Some proposed plans place Calcasieu and Cameron in a north/south western district that goes from the Gulf to Shreveport. Some plans have a Lake Charles district that goes north and possibly includes the Alexandria area. We think a district that adheres to the I-10 corridor makes the most sense. Acadiana and Southwest share so many of the same issues and similarities.

Two of the North Louisiana House Districts need to gain population so they want to bring their districts south and east. This is to keep incumbents Rep. Mike Johnson and Rep. Julia Letlow from having to run against each other. The districts of Congressman Garret Graves and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise need to shed population. Concerted efforts are being made by several organizations including the Louisiana NAACP to create another minority district, since one third of six congress members would be two. Now the state has only one minority district and that is filled by Congressman Troy Carter of New Orleans, who was elected to replace Congressman Cedric Richmond, who resigned to join the Biden administration.

Redistricting is very personal for elected officials as it affects their election. This is understandable but we favor districts that adhere to common communities and keep natural geographic areas together as much as possible.

We want to thank Rep. Stefanski and Sen. Hewitt and members of their committees for making the effort to go across the state. The Lake Charles date again is Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tritico Theater at McNeese. It’s up to us to attend and let our voices be heard.

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