Latest version of Council Redistricting map unveiled by demographer

Little urgency in redrawing Ascension’s Parish Council district lines required after the 2020 decennial census, the demographer hired to assist in the task apparently took it upon himself to present the latest iteration (see above).

Current council district map

  • District 1 (west bank) seat currently occupied by Alvin “Coach” Thomas
  • District 2 (southeastern corner of map) seat currently occupied by Joel Robert
  • District 3 (southernmost area in bottom of horseshoe formed by Mississippi River in Darrow) currently occupied by Travis Turner
  • District 4 (northwest corner of map) currently occupied by Corey Orgeron
  • District 5 (northeast corner of map) currently occupied by Dempsey Lambert
  • District 6 (St. Amant area bounded by Amite River to the east) currently occupied by Chase Melancon
  • District 7 (located between Districts 4/5) currently occupied by Aaron Lawler
  • District 8 (Geismar area bordering Iberville Parish to west on east bank, north of District 3) currently occupied by Teri Casso
  • District 9 (in purple) currently occupied by Dal Waguespack
  • District 10 (just north of District 3) currently occupied by John Cagnolatti
  • District 11 (in pink) currently occupied by Michael Mason

In a memorandum accompanying Plan 4, Mike Hefner of Geographic Planning & Demographic Services wrote:

Since our last workshop, I have been taking a fresh look at the various plans we have been exploring.  One of my concerns is that we are straying fairly far from our current district boundaries in some areas which can cause some voter confusion.  Also, the number of precincts being split is something I am concerned with because with each split we have to create a new precinct.  This adds to the costs of elections and can sometimes put a strain on polling locations.

Plan 4  is transmitted with this memo.  I tried to use whole precincts to the greatest extent possible.  I also tried to to have the various areas of the Parish represented by districts that are a bit more compact.

The plan meets the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and applicable state statutes.  Minority representation is maintained, and the west bank is represented by two districts.

The demographics of Plan 4 are:

By way of comparison on the precinct splits, the major plan configurations we have discussed had the following precinct splits:

  • IP Plan 1-7
  • Plan 2-14
  • Plan 3-11
  • Plan 4-4

We can discuss Plan 4 at our next workshop.  If you have any questions please let me know.

The map generated after the second (of two) workshops, taking into account the whims and wishes of a few council members…

was a product of pure political expediency.  Pencil-whipped into misshapen geographic regions to enhance the electoral chances of District 10’s John Cagnolatti and District 5’s Dempsey Lambert, Hefner was left to right the wrong-headed end product designated Plan 3.

That’s what happens when electability is the only consideration for sitting council members, from which a six-vote majority must be cobbled together to establish the next Parish Council district map.  The final product must be approved before qualifying for the October 14, 2023 election (the second week of July).  Election officials, Registrar of Voters Shanie Bourg and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, would prefer to have the map finalized sooner to allow time for necessary adjustments.

That immediacy is not shared by Ascension’s individual council members who care more about reelection than compliance with the Voting Rights Act.  Tinkering commenced back in November…

Redistricting Map produced after November 2021 Workshop

resulting in Plan 2A.

According to multiple sources the next Council Workshop will be conducted sometime in August.