Population changes mean realignment of Police Jury districts in Beauregard

The results of the 2020 census has revealed population changes within Beauregard Parish that will require a realignment of police jury districts.

Beauregard Parish’s population grew by nearly 1,000 residents over the past decade, according to the results of the federal census. The largest area of growth was seen in the southern districts, in the Ragley and Longville area communities.

According to a Malapportionment Report prepared by Strategic Demographics for the police jury, five of the police jury’s ten districts are now out an acceptable deviation by representing either too much or too little of the parish’s general population, based upon the principal of one-person, one-vote.

Based upon the census figures, the total population in Beauregard Parish as of 2020 is 36,549. That would mean,

in an ideal alignment, each district would have a population of 3,655, according to the report.

Districts 4A and 4B, which both run from the north to the south of the parish, saw population increases of more than twenty percent each. District 4A, represented by Juror John Stebbins and encompassing the Ragley community, saw a growth of 870 residents, while District 4B, represented by Juror Ronnie Jackson and parallel to Stebbins’ district to encompass the Longville area, saw a growth of 750 residents.

In its northern districts, the parish experienced changes in the opposite way. District 3C, in the DeRidder area, saw a decrease in population by twelve percent.

Police jurors now must begin the lengthy process of determining how best to move forward to realign the districts with the population changes. The panel must approve a new district map or solid plan for a new map by April 2023.

The new districts must be provided to the Secretary of State no later than July 10, 2023.

Jurors held a workshop recently to discuss the Malapportionment Report and to field possible scenarios that could bring the districts into alignment.

One plan that gained the most discussion centered around changing the Ragley and Longville districts; effectively cutting them in half horizontally so that one would become a northern district alongside District 3C, and the other would remain south and encompass both Longville and Ragley.

Other district boundaries would subsequently shift to accommodate the adjustment, however Juror Jerry Shirley expressed his concerns that doing so could have consequences for current jurors regarding their respective districts and residences.

“If these demographics are adopted, it’s very possible (those jurors) would have to run against each other. It’s a possibility when redistricting all areas for several jurors to run against each other,” Shirley stated.

The redistricting has also been a discussion topic with school board members. According to parish administrator Bryan McReynolds, the police jury has been in discussion with school board officials in the context of potentially one day having district maps that would reflect one board member and one police juror in each district, though McReynolds said that result may yet be years away.

“The school board district map is school-centered, while the police jury districts are centered around the roads. It may be possible to get closer to that in the next ten years, but to reach that goal would likely take many more years beyond that,” McReynolds stated.

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