Over the past 14 months, volunteers that live in the unincorporated area of St. George have worked diligently to collect 18,000-plus petition signatures to secure our right to vote on the proposed city of St. George.

We continue to follow all legal requirements (as enumerated in the Lawrason Act of 1898) for registered voters in the unincorporated area to place the proposed city of St. George on the ballot.

This after being told by the Legislature that we could not proceed to form a new school district unless we were a city. These are the same protocols the city of Central exercised in 2005.

Mayor-President Kip Holden presides over all residents of the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, and is accountable to ensure the civil rights of all parish residents are not disenfranchised — specifically our right to vote.

It matters not whether he agrees or disagrees with the potential outcome of this election. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were landmark pieces of legislation that outlawed discrimination and ended unequal voter registration requirements so as to permanently remove voter disenfranchisement.

Yet, the mayor-president and his staff or representatives have taken a passive-aggressive position to remain silent while pro bono attorneys and Metro Council members discuss (in the press) plan(s) to sue the organizers for the city of St. George and keep the proposed ballot initiative away from St. George voters.

Consider that the city of Baton Rouge actively pursued businesses in the unincorporated area of St. George to be annexed into Baton Rouge — and then used their annexations as the basis to argue in court that the 18,000-plus signatures are invalid.

I find it ironic that the mayor-president will stand by idly and allow others to sue the organizers for the city of St. George with the effect to disenfranchise voters, and then in a few months will have the hubris to announce his candidacy to be the next lieutenant governor and ask for votes from fellow Louisianians.

It will be fascinating to hear the mayor-president’s response when asked to explain why he did not do everything within his power to ensure the voting rights of the St. George area residents.

Mayor-President Holden should publicly denounce the planned lawsuits, let the democratic process work and trust the decision of an informed electorate — because the 18,000-plus individuals who signed the petition for the city of St. George trust that decision.

An inquiring newspaper would do well to find out where the funding is coming from to pay for the actions of the parish’s top executive office on these issues.

Chris Rials


Baton Rouge