The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider six competing redistricting plans for the council and school board during a special meeting Monday. Like legislatures and councils around the country, the redistricting process is requiring following the decennial U.S. census, and in the case of Lafayette Parish, acutely necessary due to population shifts over the last decade.
With population migration to the southeast, where Youngsville especially and Broussard as well have enjoyed robust growth since 2000, districts representing that area of the parish are currently over-populated. District 9, which represents most of Youngsville as well as a large swath of unincorporated Lafayette Parish and a slice of the city of Lafayette, has more than 31,000 people. That’s about 15,000 more than District 3, an inner-city, black-majority district.
Working with a Baton Rouge demographer over the last few months — Lafayette demographer Mike Hefner also provided pro-bono consulting — the six plans are roughly the same in that they’ve been drawn to take in approximately 24,000 residents each, give or take a few percentage points. The federal Voting Rights Act requires Lafayette Parish to maintain two majority-black districts, which each of the plans does with districts 3 and 4, held respectively by Councilmen Brandon Shelvin and Kenneth Boudreaux.
However, due to the imperatives of the federal law, the majority-black districts will necessarily have to expand to take in more residents while the districts in south Lafayette Parish — 7, 8 and 9 in particular — will have to contract due to population density. That means that thousands of Lafayette Parish residents, regardless of which plan is adopted, will find themselves in a new district. Whichever plan is embraced by the council, it will still need to get the blessings of the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the state.