Lake Charles City Council approves new district map

Lake Charles City Council approves new district map

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The 2010 Census reaffirmed what many people already knew - a dramatic shift in population in mainly two of Lake Charles' seven council districts.

"Mr. Eckard's district gained a lot of population, while mine lost roughly around 2,000," said Marshall Simien, LC City Council District A.

"Obviously the most simple thing to do would have been to take 3,000 from my district and give them to Marshall. However that is not how it works. You can't do that. Everything has to be contiguous," said Mark Eckard, LC City Council Vice President District G.

To make sure everyone is fairly represented they had to take into consideration population demographics and try to not to split up voting precincts.

"The attempt was to keep it as close as it already is. As far as the outline of geographical boundaries and what not," said Eckard.

"We also wanted to keep traditional neighborhoods and communities in the same district," explained Simien.

A reapportionment committee, consisting of several members including Councilmen Simien and Eckard, came up with Option 1. In addition a group of residents also got involved and came up with their own plan called Option 2, which would change the city's current majority-minority districts from 3 to 4.

"The process is about creating a means of fair representation and not incumbent protection. We implore the city council to consider our plan as a fair alternative that honors the true population of our communities," said Mary Morris.

A former city councilman also had a third alternative slightly altering the committee's recommendation (Option 1).

"The demographics are pretty much the same. It doesn't change the numbers so to speak, however it leaves me in the old city council district I represented for 12 1/2 years," said Judge David Painter.

Not everyone is happy, but admits there had to be compromise.

"If you want my personal opinion about it. I'm not completely satisfied about some of the people I lost out of my district but I knew I had to give up something for the greater good of the whole," said Rodney Geyen, LC City Council District C.

After voting on all three of the options the council approved Option 1, which was backed by the reapportionment committee. That option will now be submitted to the Department of Justice for final approval.

To see the new district map click here.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.