Will significant changes to District 9 map diminish incumbent’s chances?

New District 9 map in green

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.  Our analysis of those district-by-district shifts, with an assessment of potential changes to the electoral dynamic, focuses on District 9 today.  (See above for map going into effect for Election Day, adopted during a Special Meeting of the Council on December 29).

District 9’s new composition consists of three new voting precincts with 32% of the electorate made up of voters new to the district, most of the district east of Airline Hwy went to District 10 (see below).  It may not matter much to the incumbent since rumors have been rampant that Councilman Dal Waguespack will not seek reelection (a different version has him bowing out IF he faces opposition).

The ballot will have a new candidate, though no public announcement has been made, who was a vocal critic of East Ascension Drainage Commission’s June 28, 2021 vote to strip Parish President Clint Cointment’s operational control.  Waguespack was joined in the six-vote majority by Teri Casso, Aaron Lawler, Corey Orgeron, Dempsey Lambert and John Cagnolatti.  There is a realistic chance that none of them will be sworn into office when January 2024 rolls around.

All six were targeted for recall in mid-term.  While none succeeded, the petitions gathered signatures which should form the initial voter contact list for any challenger to the half-dozen council members who overplayed an exceedingly weak hand.  Any political consultant worth the price would ensure they relive the debacle…

After chaotic meeting, is EA Drainage doing away with Drainage Director position?

If Waguespack is worried that the campaign might get contentious, his concerns are well-founded.  He the deciding vote when a jam-packed Council Meeting Chamber saw an angry throng of citizens demand that Cointment be left to helm drainage works east of the Mississippi River.  The fact that Dal Waguespack teared up before casting that decisive vote, evidence of misgivings or guilty conscience, does not excuse the fact that he cast that vote.

Feeble attempts to walk it back after the dust settled did not make matters better for the sensitive councilman.

Current District 9 in green

An intelligent, highly capable guy, Waguespack never seemed in touch with much of his constituency even after walloping five-term councilman Todd Lambert in 2019.  That was never more evident than…

Residents support only one option for Windermere Crossing…don’t build it

May 18, 2021 when Waguespack and two of his colleagues appeared at St. Mark’s Church Activity Center to discuss the fate of Windermere Crossing subdivision.  Public perception that he is allied with the anti-Cointment faction (talk about falling in with a bad crowd) has polarized certain of his constituency.  Nothing good can happen for a Gonzales guy who cozies up to Prairieville’s Aaron Lawler, whether you share an affinity for Parish Manager governance or not.  That constituency includes over 2,000 voters new to District 9, found in Precincts 23, 28, and 73.

How much support has Waguespack leaked in his home precinct, No. 72?  He won it with 61% of the vote on October 12, 2019, performing even better in Precinct 20 with 65% of the total.  The only other holdover precinct is No. 20, the least convincing (52%) of Waguespack’s precinct sweep three years ago when rabid anti-incumbency sentiment cost six incumbents their seats.

The Council’s approval, as a body, does not seem to have improved.  Drawing a line in the sand over EA Drainage certainly did not help its standing; and we can think of no council-driven accomplishment that could have shifted public opinion upward.  The District 9 representative’s political shelf life may have expired after one term.

On the flip-side, Waguespack’s thumping of 2019’s incumbent cannot be ignored, merely tempered by the realization that four other incumbents failed to break the 40% threshold.