The redistricting process is underway — a redrawing of the state's political maps to reflect population changes in the 2020 Census.
Acadiana's Redistricting Roadshow happened Tuesday night in UL's student union. At the public forum, those attending had the chance to voice their concerns and opinions when it comes to the redistricting process.
Before the forum, however, some concerns about Senate District 22 were brought to KATC's attention. Among those with concerns is Keith Baudin, a business owner and lifelong resident of St. Martin Parish.
"What's currently going on is they're trying to gerrymander a new district to incorporate St. Martin Parish into Lafayette Parish," Baudin told KATC.
Baudin said he'd seen a newspaper ad paid for by former state senator and ATC commissioner Troy Hebert circulating on social media, where Hebert says his old district, District 22, will be gerrymandered, moving representation from St. Martin and Iberia Parish to Lafayette.
Baudin noted that he agreed and said he feels like the representation of the district — which encompasses St. Martin, Iberia, and parts of St. Landry Parishes — is indeed at stake.
"We're looking at 120,000 people having to sacrifice their senate voice so four people in the legislature can advance their political careers," Baudin said.
KATC took his concerns to state representative John Stefanski (R, District 42), who is chairman of the House of Governmental Affairs, the committee that is in charge of redistricting.
"What I would counter is, show, you know, show me a map I haven't seen any proposed maps that do what is alleged is afoot," said Stefanski.
Stefanski added that the House and Senate take extra care to fit all 39 districts of Louisiana together like a puzzle based on census calculations.
"I just think all of this conversation is premature but a good example of why it's so important to have good public participation at these meetings and have the public get involved as possible," Stefanski said. "So we can see what the will of, really, the constituency is."
Stefanski told KATC that this Redistricting Roadshow is one of the first steps in the redistricting process, which needs to be completed before the end of 2022 as per the Louisiana Constitution. He said, however, that with congressional qualifying happening in July of that year, they need to have all the lines drawn by then.
As for the next steps after tonight's public forum, Stefanski said his committee expects to call a special session in February with the sole purpose of redrawing these lines at that time — noting that he foresees changes being made in every district at every level.
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