St. Charles redistrict work starts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2001


HAHNVILLE – With preliminary figures in hand, the St. Charles Parish Council will take the bull by the horns Monday and begin the reapportionment of council districts. A resolution was approved Wednesday by a council committee chaired by Barry Minnich which recommended the formation of a group, to include representatives of the council, school board, justices of the peace and constables, all of whom share identical districts. The committee, if approved by the full council and formed as planned, will include four council members, three school board members and one representative of the justices of the peace and constables, to be designated. At the same time the council will introduce an ordinance toward the hiring of South Central Planning Commission, which performed the last reapportionment plans, to handle the job this time. Its function will be to analyze the data and offer alternative plans for consideration at public forums it will conduct. After the public forums the council and school board will adopt a plan, submit it to the Justice Department and hope for approval. The primary consideration of the Justice Department will be minority voting rights. St. Charles Parish, Minnich said, is unique in Louisiana, being the only parish which enjoys identical district lines, no matter which office. Other parishes do their own reapportionment separately, without coordination between agencies. “We don’t have to do that, but it’s best for the parish,” Minnich said, pointing out it’s much easier on voters. “We want to be able to keep that continuity.” Ideally, each district will have a population count of 6,877 population to be balanced among seven districts.

  • District 1 has a population of 6,645 and needs to add 222 persons.
  • District 2 has a population of 7,251 and needs to drop 384 persons.
  • District 3 has a population of 7,755 and needs to drop 888 persons.
  • District 4 has a population of 6,382 and needs to add 485 persons.
  • District 5 has a population of 6,525 and needs to add 342 persons.
  • District 6 has a population of 7,067 and needs to drop 200 persons.
  • District 7 has a population of 6,447 and needs to add 420 persons.

Some expectations are already being observed by council members. Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux and April Black said they expect District 1 to take a larger east bank portion, and District 6 will likely give up a chunk of New Sarpy. At the same time, District 2 could be more of a presence on the east bank toward St. Rose, while Boutte will likely be the battleground between Districts 4 and 7. Both 4 and 7 need to gain more than 400 people, likely to come from District 2. Since the school board, justices of the peace and constables all come up for election in the fall of 2002, completion of the reapportionment process is imperative to keep elections on schedule and fair to all. After the 1990 census attempts to approve a home rule charter change to have an eight-district plan failed. However, the delays by that election process sliced into the time candidates had to prepare for the election which followed. Minnich said, “We don’t have time to revise the charter before the next election. Personally, I wouldn’t support that. I don’t want to risk delaying the elections.” Therefore, a timetable drafted by the council office dictates the U.S. Justice Department have the reapportionment plan submitted by April 1, 2002. Simply stated, the parish has slightly less than one year to draw, enact, pre-clear and implement the new district lines before the 2002 primary and general elections. The next parish council election is in fall 2003. Some members may come out of Monday’s council meeting, and Minnich said he is interested in serving on the reapportionment committee. “We’re in pretty good shape,” Minnich said of the parish’s outlook.