Port Allen’s new redistricting plan has city council split

From left: Port Allen council members Clerice Lacy, Hugh Riviere, Charlene Gordon, Gary Hubble, Port Allen Mayor Richard Lee and Councilman Brandon Brown.

PORT ALLEN- For the last several weeks, the Port Allen City Council has been working on a new redistricting map to go along with the latest data from the census.

At next month’s regular meeting, the council will vote to approve it. The introduction of the new plan passed 3-2 last month. Council members Clerice Lacy, Brandon Brown and Charlene Gordon voted yes. Hugh Riviere and Gary Hubble voted no.

Current Port Allen

The city is divided into four districts. It hired Cedric Floyd, the President of Data Center, LLC, to analyze the data and help configure the new maps.

“Every city, school board and parish, state rep or state senate has to review their current election district applying the new census,” Floyd said. “In most times, the districts are out of balance, meaning the data is more than 10 percent deviation from the smallest to largest. With that, you must adjust alliances to bring population equality, less than 10 percent deviation.”

Floyd said he presented the Port Allen council with the information at a previous council meeting and advised them on what needed to happen.

“After you apply census to the, to the current lines, you have a right to have a redistricting workshop individually or in groups, and once that happened, they could create with my computer system, an option they want, or I take their options together and try to combine it to a plan that complies with federal and state law,” Floyd explained. “We had redistrict workshops where everybody individually met with me, and then some in groups of two met with me.”

Port Allen’s current districts are composed of two majority-black and two majority-white districts. The plan numbers account for the total population, not the voting population.

Revised plan

The revised plan that will go up for a vote at next month’s meeting has the plan deviation at three percent, down from the 18.6 percent of the current plan.

According to the documents provided, the new plan seemingly shaves the predominantly black districts and spreads it out throughout the city, and the same goes for the districts with more white people.

For example, District I currently has 1,068 black people, which would be reduced to 794. The district has 200 white people now, and it would increase to 387 under the new plan

Hubble represents District 3, which is currently 65.79 percent white and 28 percent black. The new map would put Hubble’s District at 46.52 percent white and 48.68 percent black. It would be a decrease of 192 white people and an increase of 279 black people.

“While (Districts) 1 and 4, the predominantly black districts have a wide separation of numbers, they took the second and third districts and completely flip-flopped them,” he said. “He (Floyd) put all four districts majority black. You have a 60 percent black population in Port Allen, 33.3 percent white, and seven percent other. In my estimation, you took preferably the 40 and disenfranchised them like they don’t exist because you’re not allowing one or two districts to elect what they’ve been predominantly white. They kept the other ones predominantly black; in my mind, this is unfair. It’s just not right because they talk about fair representation. Well, you just took it right out of there.”

Floyd said the other council members in Districts 1, 2, and 4 sent him an option for the new maps, but he didn’t receive one from Hubble.

“The previous city council, after the 2010 census, gave their input and voted the way they wanted, and this board, the five members got the same options within the law to come up with a plan,” Floyd stated. “The plan was out of balance, and some census blocks had to be moved from one district to another.”

Floyd explained that when he took the task of redistricting, he looked at the term “stacking and packing.” He said packing is when over 80 percent of a certain race is in a district. He viewed that as a “wasted population.”

“You have packing in District 4 that is over 90 percent black,” Floyd said. “With the new plan, it reduces the packing.”

Brown, District 4 council member and Mayor Pro Tempore, said he initially wasn’t a fan of the new plan, but the numbers speak for themselves.

“It’s just more balanced,” Brown said. “It’s closer to representing what the majority of the city is. We followed his (Floyd) lead, and his lead was based on the guidelines. He has to use the census to come up with the information. Initially, I didn’t like it just because of the way it looked on a map, but once you actually look at the data and information, it makes sense.”

The council will vote to approve the Port Allen redistricting map at its next regular meeting on Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m.

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