NEW ROADS — A routine redistricting process in Pointe Coupee Parish might force several incumbent justices of the peace and constables — who say they weren’t involved in planning discussions — to compete for the same territory in 2014.
“Even if we sit down and talk, my confidence in the system is destroyed,” Justice of the Peace Roosevelt Gremillion said at Tuesday’s Police Jury meeting.
Gremillion and two others affected said someone should have told them sooner that the reapportionment plans would affect their districts.
“We are elected officials,” Gremillion said outside of the public meeting. “We shouldn’t be left out of the process.”
The parish is legally required to draw district lines based on U.S. census information every 10 years. The districts must be similar in population to ensure equal representation. And once police jurors are elected in October, the districts are locked in for 10 years.
Political bodies cannot gerrymander, or draw district lines so a particular party or group has an advantage. But many make plans that avoid forcing incumbents to run against each other.
Nancy Jensen, a consultant with Garnet Innovations LLC, a redistricting consultant, said she would write up a small technical correction for the redistricting plan that the U.S. Department of Justice approved in July.
The revision — if approved by the Police Jury and the Department of Justice — would eliminate one of the conflicts between Gremillion and Claiborne Ashford, another justice of the peace.
But Jensen said she can’t redraw lines to accommodate two incumbent constables who will now live in the same district —George Miller and Ron Pourciau.
Miller, president of Pointe Coupee’s Justice of the Peace and Constables Association, said he has worked closely with Pourciau, who is vice president of the group.
He said Pourciau has done a good job, and he does not intend to run against him.
It’s still unclear whether any of the other 20 incumbent justices and constables would be pitted against each other in 2014, Miller said.
If the parish tried to revoke the plans and start over, it would likely miss deadlines and be forced to pay for an off-year election, which could cost $50,000, Jensen said.