After years of representation in Baton Rouge by Jefferson Parish lawmakers, Carrollton residents see this year’s redistricting process as a chance to rejoin their neighbors in New Orleans, they told a panel of legislators in charge of the process Thursday night.
Similarly, the Irish Channel is seeking to have its neighborhood voice reunited in one legislative district, and at least one local state lawmaker called that request a goal he shares.
The Riverbend area of Carrollton is currently represented by state Rep. Cameron Henry in the state House of Representatives, forming a far eastern corner of his Jefferson Parish-based district. The four Orleans Parish voting precincts dmade up less than 10 percent of the vote in Henry’s district in the 2008 elections, said Marshall Hevron of the Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association, and also voted very differently from the rest of the district. Most of the Jefferson voters cast ballots for Republicans John McCain in 2008 and David Vitter for Senator in 2010, while the Orleans Parish enclave strongly supported President Obama and then U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon against Vitter, Hevron said.
“We want to be with our neighbors,” Hevron said. “When there’s a Jefferson-Orleans issue, Jefferson’s going to win out every time.”
Hevron’s comments were echoed by the committee first by H.V. Nagendra of the Carrollton Area Network, then again by Thomas Milliner of Maple Area Residents. Carrollton was historically a separate city and still has a strong, cohesive nature, Milliner said.
“But even though it is a separate community, an identifiable community, it is somewhat of a stepchild,” he said. Residents have to seek out two sets of representatives on any issue. “If Carrollton wants to get something done, it has to put forth twice as much effort.”
The meeting featured approximately an hour of introduction before the public comments began. Ed McGinnis of the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association was among the first to fill out a comment card, hoping to make a similar point about uniting his area, which is currently split between state Reps. Walt Leger and Helena Moreno. McGinnis had to leave early, however, so he submitted written testimony to the committee for the record instead.
“They need to keep neighborhoods whole,” McGinnis said on his way out.
Leger said after the meeting that he had spoken to McGinnis, and that he was working to make the Irish Channel’s request happen. Because population shortfalls, district lines in Uptown New Orleans must be dramatically redrawn, and Leger said a common goal of lawmakers from this area is to see the new lines follow neighborhood boundaries better both in Uptown and Central City.
“We’re going to make as much effort to have neighborhoods stay together as possible,” Leger said.
To read a recap of our live coverage of the meeting, click “replay” in the box below.