By Jim Wilkerson
Next month, the Ruston City Council will convene to discuss, and probably approve, redrawing the single member election district lines of Ruston.
This week it was revealed that two districts grew or shrunk in population size from 2010 to 2020 outside the acceptable 10 percent margin. District 1’s population declined by 10.06 percent, while District 5 grew 13.6 percent.
When District 5’s alderman, Bruce Siegmund, jokingly boasted that his district grew significantly, Mayor Ronny Walker responded with what he and Carolyn Cage (District 1’s alderwoman) believed were the reasons for the districts’ population shifts.
“Student housing, as we all know, has been a big, big part of District 5’s growth,” Walker said. “And I don’t think District 1 actually lost 400+ residents. They just did not get counted in the census.”
When asked how he arrived at that conclusion, Walker responded, “[Cage] and I both agree that if you just look at obituaries – and she knows who’s died and who hasn’t – we don’t believe that over the last 10 years there’s been 446 people move out of, or die, in her district. We’ve had some growth, as far as houses, in that district. So, it didn’t make sense, except that people just didn’t get counted.”
“I think that those living in houses in the Barnett Springs area probably either did the census online, or the census folks – which I’m not sure they did this – went door-to-door,” he added.
Walker then listed several other factors that perhaps contributed to the population changes.
“I do think there was a shift,” he said. “If you take 100 houses, and you’ve got three people living in every house – that’s 300 people. And those moved, let’s say, from apartments over on the northeast side of town to houses on the southwest side of town. That would explain a lot of that difference in growth.”
Walker continued, “Plus, I think over the last ten years you saw the Cypress Springs area become an area where you could buy a bigger house at less cost. And if you remember, the School Board changed the way they did schools, to where you didn’t have to live north of I-20 to go either to Hillcrest or Glenview.”
Overall, the average change in population for each district was 282.6 citizens (6.37% change). District 1 lost 446 people (10.06%). District 2 lost 179 (4.04%). District 3 gained 104 (2.35%). District 4 lost 81 (1.83%). And District 5 gained 603 (13.60%).
The new district plan has not yet been finalized, but one will be presented at the next Ruston City Council meeting, which will take place Monday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
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