LOCAL

Private meetings set on reapportionment

Deidre Cruse

Iberville Parish Council members began meeting privately in small groups with their reapportionment consultants to redraw the 13 districts to match the parish's shifting population.

Glenn Koepp of Redistricting LLC told the Council at a special meeting last week approximately 3,230 state prisoners housed in Eastside prisons are included in the parish 2000 Census count of 33,387 – leaving a citizen population count of 30,154.

That means an ideal council district will have 2,319 residents, Koepp said. The population of a district can vary by plus or minuses five percent of the ideal district size – between 2,203 and 2,436 residents, he said.

The “free” population on the Eastside can be divided into two acceptable districts of 2,254 each, Koepp said.

Loss of population in the northern parts of the parish mean that two large council districts must be expanded even more to meet the population requirements. The Plaquemine area District 9, currently represented by Terry J. Bradford, has grown the fastest of any on the West Bank and will have to be reduced in size.

Councilman Louis “Pete” Kelley Jr. said he thought the council should start at the North end and work down on the West Bank.

“What we need to do is straighten these districts out,” Kelley said, adding he hoped the boundaries of his Plaquemine-area district could be redrawn so he could represent all of Bayou Sorrel. “You take the politics out of it, it can be fixed.”

Council Chair Matthew H. “Matt” Jewell of Maringouin said his district and that of Timothy J. Vallet of Rosedale must take in territory to the south.

“I have to get 200 more votes,” said Councilman Warren “T-Notchie” Taylor of White Castle. “The only thing I can see is going north.”

They agreed to meet in small groups with the consultants to begin working out a plan. The consultants recommended keeping the groups small enough to avoid having a quorum, which would mean holding a public meeting.

Public bodies have to reapportion themselves after every 10-year census to assure their districts adhere to the U. S. Supreme Court's one-man, one-vote rule.

With their elections coming up this fall, the council must draw a plan quickly and have it cleared by the Justice Department in time for qualifying in September.