11 Ascension Parish Council seats are scheduled to be contested on October 14, with some districts having seen major changes to accommodate wildly shifting demographic patterns reflected in the most recent decennial census. In the coming weeks we will analyze those changes, district-by-district, with an assessment of potential changes to the electoral dynamic. We begin with District 1 (see district map going into effect for Election Day, adopted during a Special Meeting of the Council on December 29).
Left up to the current member, Councilman Alvin “Coach” Thomas’ preference means that a single district takes in the entirety of the west bank. Insufficient population to comprise a whole district, the seat had to traverse the Mississippi River to include an east bank voting precinct (or two, depending on the configuration).
The current map has two precincts in District 2 on the west bank, meaning two council members comprise the West Ascension Drainage Board sitting Ex Officio. Unless new legislation is passed at the state level, the Board will consist of a single member. The flipside, for the first time in Ascension’s history District 1’s representative will enjoy the same status on East Ascension Drainage Board.
Given the ill-considered power play by six EA Drainage commissioners against President Clint Cointment in 2021…
this 11th EA Drainage vote could become extremely important. Two years into the current council tenure, no member more consistently launched baseless (some might say, persurd) attacks on the president than Councilman Thomas. His tone softened as the Cointment administration prioritized investment in west bank Early Childhood Development, sugary sweet salutations of praise for the administration becoming the norm.
How Thomas plans to garner votes in the east bank’s Precinct 40, which makes of nearly 22% of District 1’s total voter roll, is anyone’s guess. Including one mammoth subdivision (by Ascension standards anyway) in Pelican Crossing along with River Ridge in Sorrento, drainage and flooding could be a determinative election issue. The east bank portion of District 1 is bordered by Hwy 44 to the west, Interstate 10 to the north (except the Town of Sorrento, Conway Subdivision in the City of Gonzales and acreage north of Brittany Tower Road remaining in District 2).
Domination of Precinct 40 will win the District 1 election if an opponent can keep it relatively close in the district’s current precincts. Thomas won them by a 198-vote margin in 2019 when he bested then incumbent Oliver Joseph. We have heard rumblings from Donaldsonville’s elected officialdom that Coach Thomas has fell out of favor, though it may not impact his voter approval that much.
Two west bank precincts outside of District 1 make up just over 12% of the voter roll. Precinct 50 includes St. Jude Subdivision across from the old Riverdale Country Club (for all you old-timers) and Precinct 48 runs along the Mississippi River levee west toward Louisiana Square an Donaldsonville’s historic courthouse. How well Alvin Thomas can perform there is an open question.
Having gotten what he asked for in redistricting, Alvin “Coach” Thomas may be hoist on his own petard.