After being hit with a suit over the redistricting plan it chose, the Livingston Parish Council has scheduled a meeting to discuss changing the district boundaries.
The council had rejected a plan from its consultant that would have created districts that had populations within 5 percent of the ideal number of residents and adopted a plan that includes districts with as many as 17,716 people and as few as 11,170 people.
That plan is “blatantly in violation of the principle of equal representation for all voters of the parish,” according to a suit filed in federal court.
Councilman Marshall Harris said Wednesday that legal advice the council has received since the suit was filed is that the plan should be changed to meet the “one-man-one-vote principle of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.”
Experts will present the council with a revised plan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, he said.
Councilman Thomas Watson said he thinks the council will eventually change the current plan to one that resembles the original plan presented by the council’s consultant, Nancy Jenson.
Dannie Garrett III, a special legal adviser whom the council consulted on the lawsuit, has advised the council to change its plan to one that draws all the council districts around populations that are within 5 percent of the ideal number, Watson said.
Because the council met the federal deadline for devising a new plan, the best course is to send the U.S. Justice Department a revision to that plan rather than submitting a completely new one after the deadline has passed, Watson said.
That will also allow the council to provide public notice on its revised plan Thursday and hold a public hearing on it in 30 days, Watson said.
Watson said he hopes the plan the council agrees to will put slightly fewer people in those areas that are growing more rapidly so that things will even out in the next few years.
The suit challenging the council’s redistricting plan was filed in U.S. District Court’s Middle District last week by Livingston Parish resident Robert Morgan.
It seeks a permanent injunction forbidding the parish from proceeding with an election using the district boundaries set by the council.
The council election is set for Oct. 22 with qualifying set for Sept. 6 -9.
The suit asks that the council be ordered “to enact a plan not inconsistent with existing law and established guidelines and provide for population equity among the districts as near as reasonably practicable.”