Redistricting plan would cost Jeff Davis minority district

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, January 20, 2022

JENNINGS — A new redistricting plan for the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury would do away with one of two minority districts due to a decline in the population of minorities included in the 2020 Census.

Under plans presented to the Police Jury on Wednesday, District 6 currently represented by Police Juror Melvin Adams would become the sole minority district for the parish. District 3 represented by Police Juror Marcus Peterson would become known as an “influential district.”

“The parish does not have enough minorities to maintain two minority districts,” demographer Mike Hefner of Geographic Planning and Demographic Services said in presenting the plans.

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The majority of the decline in the minority population was noted in the Jennings area, he said.

“It’s the same issue I am seeing all across the state in different parishes,” Hefner said.

He said COVID pandemic affected the ability of the U.S. Census Bureau to send Census takers out to collect the data by knocking on doors of people who did not fill out a Census form leading to an undercount in population.

“Particularly in the minority communities, you normally don’t have a real high response rate and when you take away that face-to-face that probably makes it worse,” Hefner said. “I know there are more minorities there. There is no doubt in my mind, but we have to use the numbers that are reported.”

In addition, he said many of the younger minorities have grown up and moved out of the area.

Adams said having a single minority district could put more pressure on his district. The parish has traditionally had two minority districts, he said.

“Having two minorities is easier because we can consult with each other about what is going on in our districts,” Adams said.

Peterson said he will be talking with his constituents and discussing the matter further.

Police Juror Kori Myers, who represents District 4, lost a lot of her in town constituents to Adams’ and Peterson’s district while taking in more rural areas north and west of her district to include portions of Districts 5, 8 and 12 to make District 3 and 6 work population wise.

“Even though I gave up a lot of the town to District 3 and 6 to make their districts work, I am happy with what has been drawn,” Myers said.

District 7 represented by Police Juror Steve Eastman will likely move further south under the new plan.

District 5 represented by Police Juror Tim McKnight is expected to extend from the northernmost boundary to Herrington Road, Hwy. 102 to Grand Marais Road up to Hines Road, north of Jennings.

District 13 represented by Police Juror Chad Talbort is likely to lose the northside of Interstate 10 near the Lacassine area.

Some adjustments are still needed to balance the population of Districts 8 and 9 in the Hathaway and Elton areas, according to Hefner.

“We shifted District 9 a little bit more toward the southwest to keep District 8 more compacted on the central east side,” he said.

Only minor changes are expected in Districts 1, 2, 10, 11 and 12.

Hefner hopes to have the new redistricting plan redrawn and presented to the Police Jury for approval next month.

The Police Jury has until June 2023 to adopt the plan in time for their elections in the fall of 2023.