Schamerhorn says Legislature could lose Kenny Cox’s seat

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Times Staff
As State Representative Rodney Schamerhorn faces his first session dealing with reapportionment, he predicted North Louisiana could lose one legislative representative seat due to the declining population in the area.

This article published in the Jan. 15, 2022, print edition

Most of the talk surrounding reapportionment has centered around possibly losing a congressional seat in North Louisiana, however the declining population in our part of the state is causing many representatives and senators to try and find new residents to add to their districts.
“Most of us in this area as saying, representative wise, are thinking that Kenny Cox is term limited and his district would be the best one to lose,” the Hornbeck Republican stated.
“We’re going to have to lose one,” according to Schamerhorn.
“His would be the best because it runs from Natchitoches to Shreveport,” he added. “All those other representatives (Shreveport/Bossier/Ruston area ones) can then move in there. And pick up what they needed.”
He already has a half dozen bills he wants to introduce in the April session, but first his attention is focused on the Reapportionment Session starting in February, which he says will be a real challenge.
Schamerhorn said he needed to grow his district by 350 people to be within the population guidelines.
“When you’re dealing with rural areas, 350 people is a lot,” he said.
In addition to what state demographers are working with, many lawmakers have people helping them with their own maps. He said it’s going to be a challenge because the people drawing these maps on the state level really do not know where your home base is or anything like that.
Schamerhorn would prefer to get the rest of Sabine Parish added to his district. That would mean taking in Converse and Pleasant Hill. “If I could get that, it would give me more than enough to give some of Vernon Parish to Chuck Owen who needs about 450 more to grow. But it would be in the southern part,” Schamerhorn added. He said his current district goes like a horseshoe around Owen’s district.
Fort Polk has always caused a problem in Vernon Parish. No money goes to Fort Polk and those on base are usually registered in another state.
Schamerhorn requested a letter to La. Attorney General Jeff Landry asking that the matter be addressed
Looking at if from the Police Jury standpoint, Schamerhorn explained Fort Polk is down to 9,800 people. Add to that 38,000 people in the parish and then divide by 12.
He said one Juror could stand on his roof and see his entire district while another has voters in four wards and 230 miles of road. The jury districts all get one-12th of the money, plus a little money per mile of road.
“It’s so unfair to the rural people the way it’s done,” he said. “So I have asked for the School Board and the Police Jury to be able to omit it so those small districts will have to get larger and possibly get in there taking districts. I can’t wait to see what the attorney general comes up with.”
Schamerhorn doesn’t think Natchitoches or Sabine have those problems because they don’t have big concentrations. The exception would be Northwestern and the students that live there. That could almost be like Fort Polk, but if the census is done right, they are picked up at their parent’s home.
If it’s not done right, they are picked up as Natchitoches residents.
The 24th Legislative District, to which Schamerhorn took office in January of 2000, is comprised of most of Vernon and Sabine Parishes and the area of Natchitoches Parish around Robeline and Provencal.