Sunday, June 16, 2024

Locals discuss redistricting process

by BIZ Magazine

Stacey Tinsley | Special to BIZ. Magazine

Citizens from Northwest Louisiana had the chance to weigh in on how the state’s new political maps will be drawn.

The LSUS University Center Theater hosted the second stop on the Redistricting Roadshow Tour on Thursday, October 21, 2021. The is a nine city road show organized by the Louisiana House and Senate governmental affairs committees. These committees will oversee the upcoming redrawing of district boundaries for the Louisiana State Senate, the Louisiana State House of Representatives and Louisiana’s U.S. Congressional districts.

Redistricting is a process that occurs every 10 years based on changes in population resulting after each United States Census is taken.

The 2020 Census results revealed that the state of Louisiana’s population grew 2.74%, a gain of over 124,000 persons. But, some parts of the state lost residents while others gained. This means political districts will have to be redrawn.

Of the 105 Louisiana House districts, 29 had too many constituents and 37 had too few. This means that 46 of these house districts will have to be redrawn, which will effectively cause a “ripple effect” throughout the state of Louisiana.

During the forum, Bossier Chamber President Lisa Johnson, along with Shreveport Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Tim Magner, spoke together in voicing the extreme importance of how the lines are redrawn for the state senate, state house and U.S. Congressional districts in our area. They also stressed how vital it is that we don’t lose any seats/representatives for Northwest Louisiana.

“We wanted to speak to you together because our chambers have been meeting collectively, along with the Shreveport-Bossier African AmericanChamber of Commerce, on a host of regional issues. One of which is important to us, which is redistricting,” Dr. Magner said.

“Our rationale is to develop a workable approach that takes into account our critical local needs. One of which is ensuring adequate representation with the size and scope of our Metropolitan Statistical Area and region. Second is ensuring that we have adequate representation of all of our various communities and constituents as we are a very diverse community up here. We want to make sure that the nature and scope of the representation continues to reflect that reality,” he added.

Dr. Magner concluded saying, “Our congressional delegation is diverse and has significant leadership roles right now in Washington. And, that has resulted in our ability to be able to bring resources, in particular to the fourth district, for our military installations. So, having those continue to be a part of the same district, we believe, is an important component in this redistricting effort.”

Following Dr. Magner’s remarks, Johnson followed and mentioned how our district is the third fastest growing district in the state. She also mentioned our re-emphasizing the important relationship both Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk play in our surrounding area and in the state of Louisiana.

“As has been stated in the slides presented here tonight, we are the third largest growing area in the state. And, we have maintained that for many, many years for the state of Louisiana. And, that has great significance for the northern part of our state. Northwest Louisiana has a proud legacy of standing together, unifying in finding those priorities for our area in order to bring economic development, jobs, business and growth together. And, we need to maintain that representation in the numbers at the congressional, house and senate levels as well,” Johnson said.

“It is critically important as we are the home to Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Bossier Parish and the Shreveport area. We have to maintain our fourth congressional district with Fort Polk included as it is now. There are many training programs that happen between these two installations for our military branches. Whenever we go to the table and we ask for funding from the Department of Defense and Armed Services, it speaks volumes as to how we are working together in those joint forces,” Johnson added.

After the conclusion of the forum, Louisiana House District 9 State Representative Dodie Horton told the Bossier Press-Tribune that she is thankful to hear from the public and understand how they would like the districts to look.

“I was excited by the amount of citizens who attended the Redistricting Forum held at LSUS last night. Every attendee was respectful and appreciated the opportunity to be able to share their thoughts, as well as their personal testimonies and desires with us (legislators) before the lines are officially redrawn. I am thankful our leadership has taken this transparent approach to a difficult and complicated process,” Horton said.

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