Walter Pierce

Charter commission to take up reapportionment

by Walter Pierce

The recently appointed charter commission will consider an amendment to the Lafayette City-Parish Charter today that would give the council, working in concert with the Lafayette Parish School Board, more time to reapportion council/board districts following the receipt of U.S. Census figures for Lafayette Parish.

Currently, the charter instructs the elected bodies to reapportion districts six months before an election. However, charter chairman Jay Castille says he doesn’t expect to receive the census figures until March of 2011 — since months before the City-Parish Council election in October — which would leave little or no time to redraw the districts. (The school board will not be affected; their election is this fall.)

Any redistricting plan must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice and any changes to the City-Parish Charter must be approved by parish voters; Castille hopes to have any charter amendments on a ballot this November. Based on the six-month requirement for reapportionment, the only other option would be to seek a postponement in the election. “I don’t want the Department of Justice to be looking at us asking for an extension in the election ...” Castile says. “When you do things like that they’re kind of funny about it, so that’s one thing I don’t want to happen.”

Castille says he expects the reapportionment process to take a couple of months, in which case the redrawing of the districts would be complete by late spring/early summer.

The charter commission meets at 2 p.m. in the City-Parish Council auditorium. The meeting is open to the public.