Next year, when most Metro Council members begin launching their re-election campaigns, many parish residents could find themselves unable to support incumbents because of geography rather than ideology.
The reason is because the parish’s 12 districts are being redrawn, which means thousands of residents near the boundaries of current districts could be placed in a different council district.
Just like congressional districts, parish districts must be reapportioned every decade — after U.S. Census results are released — to ensure each district has an equitable population.
East Baton Rouge Parish has gained more than 27,000 new residents, bringing the total population to 440,171.
The Metro Council is expected to consider two nearly identical district drawings at Wednesday’s meeting.
The two proposals differ by a single voting precinct that could land in either Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle’s District 7 or Councilwoman Donna-Collins Lewis’s District 6.
Council Administrator Brian Mayers, leader of the redistricting effort, said members can continue to make suggestions and changes as they see fit as long as it meets the population mandates.
The proposed changes up for consideration are not drastically different than the current map.
One of the most-significant changes includes moving the area including Southern University out of District 2, currently represented by Councilman Ulysses “Bones” Addison, and into District 10, represented by Tara Wicker.
Wicker’s district also includes downtown and LSU and the proposed changes give her district an additional 5,000 residents.
Another proposed change includes District 4 scooting south past Florida Boulevard to Old Hammond Highway, an area currently in District 8 and represented by Councilman Mike Walker. District 4, which includes Central, is represented by Councilman Scott Wilson.
The Mall of Louisiana, presently in District 3 and represented by Chandler Loupe, could be moved into District 11, represented by Councilwoman Alison Gary.
Loupe may protest the proposal, however, because his church and his children’s school are in the same precinct as the mall.
But he said he may opt to “leave it alone” since moving it back would likely result in having to redraw several other council districts.
Mayers has worked with members since March trying to balance the populations and meeting the requests of members hoping to keep certain areas in their district.
The council legally must approve the reapportionment plan before March, but Mayers said he would like for it to be approved before Jan. 1, 2012.
“We try to do it ahead of time to give people time to get people ready for the elections,” Mayers said. “For instance if there’s someone in District 8 that wants to run for council, they’ll know early enough in the process that these are the boundaries they have to work with.”
The Metro Council elections will be next fall. Only Walker and Addison are term limited.
The districts will apply to 2012’s elected council.