E. Feliciana School Board redraws district _lowres

 

The East Feliciana Parish School Board is taking steps to alter the boundaries of two election districts to put former board member Rufus Nesbitt back into the district he once represented.

The proposed change to boundary lines west of Wilson, which the board unanimously approved last week, would put a small area of District 2, including Nesbitt’s residence, back in District 1.

If state officials approve the arrangement before July 6, the change could be in effect when candidates qualify for a Nov. 8 special election to fill the unexpired term of former board member J. Curtis Jelks, who resigned in March.

Qualifying for the special election will be July 20-22.

In a related matter, board members last Thursday welcomed Jelks’ interim replacement, Ron Thompson, of Norwood. Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed Thompson to the seat after the board could not agree on an interim replacement during a March 22 special meeting.

Board President Michael Bradford named Thompson, a retired lawyer, to the board’s policy review, economic development and personnel committees.

One intent of the 2012 redistricting plan was to avoid forcing incumbent members to run against each other, but major changes had to be made to balance the districts’ populations after the board decided not to include Dixon Correctional Institute inmates in the parish headcount, demographer Nancy Jensen said.

Jensen, who drew the plan before she retired, said the 2010 census showed Nesbitt’s address in the wrong census block.

She said the error did not surface until Nesbitt went to qualify to run for the District 1 seat in the 2014 election and learned he would have to seek one of the District 2 seats.

Demographer Mike Hefner drew the new boundaries.

He said the census showed 19 people lived in the affected area, including 18 of voting age, and a “lockout” will be needed on voting machines in Precinct 14 to give affected voters the opportunity to vote for a District 1 candidate on Nov. 8.

Hefner said he believes the 18 people counted in the census will be enough to justify a voting machine lockout, but he also said the 2010 census was the most costly and least accurate headcount he has seen since 1980.