Police Jury, School Board pass new redistricting plan

By William Midkiff

On the evening of Jan. 24, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury and the Lincoln Parish School Board held a joint meeting to consider adopting an ordinance which lays out a redistricting plan called the Lincoln PJ-SB Plan 2022.

This plan details the redrawing of Lincoln Parish Police Jury district lines. The new district lines proposed in the plan have been drawn using population data from the 2020 federal decennial census.

Using the 2020 census data, the new ideal district size is 4,033 people. According to Dannie Garrett, who explained all of the demographics information at the meeting, all of the new district populations meet the legal apportionment requirements.

“It’s got everybody within that plus or minus 5% that you’re required to be in,” Garrett said.

Under the proposed lines, the most populous district is now District 3, with a total population of 4,181 people. This is a 3.67% deviation from the ideal size.

District 9 is now the least populous, with a total population of 3,849 people. This is a -4.56% deviation from the ideal size.

The new plan was drawn to be as least intrusive as possible, a goal which Garrett believes was met.

“The members were very sensitive about making dramatic changes if they didn’t need to be made, to have as little voter disruption as possible,” Garrett said. “Now, there is no way to redraw a plan without voter disruption. There are going to be some people who are not in the district they’ve always been in.”

Lincoln Parish resident Bill Smith had several concerns to voice over the period of the meeting. Smith did not agree with many of the new district lines and hoped that his comments would be expanded upon.

“I have two big concerns with District 11, District 10, District 3, and District 9. And I would be glad if you decided to go into a public hearing about that so that it can be discussed,” Smith said.

Smith later questioned the authority of the jurors in the redistricting process.

“I resent you saying that those people around that table know more about these lines, and what should be and shouldn’t be, than anybody,” Smith said. “And I don’t see how you can fix your mouth to say that they know more about it than people out here in the audience.”

Despite Smith’s comments, the lines were not debated further at the meeting, and both of the redistricting plans were passed.

The first item, an ordinance to adopt the redistricting plan for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, was passed unanimously by the police jurors.

The second item, a resolution to adopt the same redistricting plan for the Lincoln Parish School Board, was passed by 11 of the 11 school board members present.

Since the items were passed without further debate, Smith made a comment on how he plans to further voice his concerns.

“I had several questions and comments and disagreements, and nobody chose to discuss it,” Smith said. “So I guess we’ll just go to the Justice Department, and I’ll have my discussion with them.”

Garrett ended the meeting with a cheerful comment about how even though this reapportionment work is being done all over the state, Lincoln Parish got it done first.

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