Just Talkin’ – July 27, 2017

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Listening to former Governor Edwin Edwards not long ago reminded JT of the days when Natchitoches Parish had real political muscle in the state legislature and strong leadership at home.

What brought this to mind were the discussions about renaming the Louisiana School for Math Science and the Arts.

It got JT to wondering about where we are now, where a Senator from 100 miles away led the charge for something a lot of people here didn’t want. That’s when it was realized the State Senator for Louisiana School lives in Alexandria.

JT thinks the recent reapportionments on the state level have “neutered us politically.”
There was a time when Natchitoches Parish had one State Senator and one representative AND both were local. Back in the days of Don Kelly and Jimmy Long, we were kept intact. But those elected after them allowed our parish to be cut into here and there to where it’s a mess.

Instead of having one person represent all of Natchitoches Parish in the House of Representatives in Baton Rouge we are now carved up among three people… none from Natchitoches Parish. There’s Col. Kenneth Cox of Mansfield, Terry Brown of Colfax and Frankie Howard of Vernon Parish all with parts of Natchitoches Parish. The same can be said where two Senators have part of Natchitoches Parish.

Every 10 years district lines are redrawn due to shifts in population. Our population may have stayed steady but because someone nearby lost population, we had to give up portions of our current Senate and House districts.

Years ago politicians moved lines around to suit themselves but the courts called that “gerrymandering” and said it was illegal. JT thinks that same thing is still being done today…they just call it re-apportionment.

Guess what, we sure look like we were gerrymandered. And what’s worse is that we are approaching the 10-year census again, so there’s no telling whose district voters in Natchitoches Parish might end up.

Did you know that Sen. Gerald Long, who’s District Office is Winnfield, only represents a portion of the City of Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish because of reapportionment? Alexandria lawmaker Jay Luneau’s District 29 meanders through the city taking in Louisiana School, along University Parkway and most of the area of the Hwy. 1 Bypass. He then goes up to an area around Texas Street. He’s also across town to the Fish Hatchery Road and on to Hampton Road, Laird Fletcher Road and Herman Taylor Road. The District goes all the way up to Lincoln Parish including parts of Bienville, Jackson and Winn.

JT hopes that can change and we can get local residents to represent us. With Gerald Long term limited…that opens a spot hopefully for a Natchitoches Parish person.

JT has heard rumors that former Clerk of Court Louie Bernard might be tossing his name into the race. Parish President Rick Nowlin’s name has also been mentioned in the Senate race or maybe even his old House of Representative seat. That spot is now held by Col. Cox, who is not term limited. Neither is Rep. Terry Brown who has the east side of the parish.

Rep. Frankie Howard is term limited and has already had a fundraiser in his race for Sheriff of Sabine Parish. Howard, like Brown, has such a small portion of Natchitoches Parish, it’s doubtful a local person could win those seats.

Natchitoches Parish really needs hometown folks fighting for us in Baton Rouge.