The redistricting process continues in Winnsboro as Town Council members met in a special-called Nov. 17 meeting.
In the meeting, the group introduced an ordinance that would reshape voting lines in Winnsboro and scheduled one-on-one meetings with Cedric Floyd, president of Data Center. During the meetings scheduled for Nov. 22 and 23, Floyd discussed district numbers with each member.
Floyd was charged in an Oct. 18 Town Council meeting with developing districts that would be in compliance with Federal law, stating district lines were not to be more or less than 10 percent.
In his October presentation, four out of five Winnsboro districts were out of the 10 percent deviation required by federal law.
Louisiana law provides a mandatory six-month timeframe after official U.S. Census release for all parish and city governing authorities to examine the apportionment plan of its body, according to the Secretary of State. During the six month period, the governing authority will determine if there exists any substantial variation in representation of election districts and then adopt an ordinance to either declare its apportionment to be equitable or provide a new apportionment plan.
Floyd took 2020 Census population of Winnsboro, divided it by five (the number of districts) and looked at the population of each district. The district with the smallest population and the district with the largest population can not have a 10 percent deviation.
According to Floyd, councilmen district boundaries also must have physical features such as highways, rivers or landmarks. Each district should comply with the Voting Rights Act, be compact and contiguous.
After district numbers are tabulated, Town Council members will vote for redistricting and Louisiana Secretary of State will approve or disapprove it.
Current numbers show there has been population shifting in Winnsboro’s Town Council districts leading to a 45.32 percent deviation, according to 2020 US Census data.
In District 1, total population was recorded at 1,200 growing 227 people which was a 23.33 percent increase. Numbers would have to be transferred to another neighboring district to reach the required 10 percent deviation. Tyrone Coleman is the current Town Council member.
District 2 lost 69 people with 904 in total population. Its deviation was at 7.09 percent and would likely gain people. Current Town Council member is Keith Berry.
District 3 total population stood at 838 losing 135 people for a -13.87 percent deviation resulting in the need for more people. Eddie Dunn is the current Town Council member.
District 4 also gained 184 people for a total of 1,157 or a 18.91 percent deviation. District 4 would have to lose people to a neighboring district. Current Town Council member is Jerry Johnson.
District 5 lost the most people at 214. Its total population numbered at 759 and shrunk 21.99 percent. Rex McCarthy is current Town Council member.
Winnsboro’s total population is 4,858, falling below the 5,000 person mark which qualifies it to be a city. Winnsboro has been classified as a town since the 2010 US Census.
According to the Secretary of State, if Town Council members fail to meet the time of reapportionment it would result in “malfeasance in office and may subject the governing authority to a loss of state revenue sharing funds.”
Town Council members could possibly hold a public hearing at their December meeting to discuss the new district lines and vote on the measure.
Also in the special-called meeting, Town Council members entered into executive session along with Winnsboro Police Chief Will Pierce. As normal, Mayor John Dumas also attended the closed-door session.
This was the second time in three weeks Town Council members went into an executive session. The first meeting lasted approximately two hours and the second lasted approximately one hour.
In the first meeting, Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb was in attendance.
Both meetings were listed as strategy sessions.
In a Nov. 19 Winnsboro Rotary meeting, Cobb said he presented a proposal to take responsibility for Winnsboro Police Department but had yet to hear from Town Council members.
Winnsboro Police Department for months have had trouble keeping and hiring officers.
According to Louisiana’s public meeting law, “Public bodies are authorized to enter into executive sessions to discuss strategy sessions or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining, prospective litigation after formal written demand, or litigation when an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body;
Discussion regarding the report, development, or course of action for security personnel, plans, or devices, including discussions concerning cybersecurity plans, financial security procedures, and assessment and implementation of any such plans or procedures; Investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct. However, the public body must provide written notice to the individual at least twenty-four hours, exclusive of weekends and legal holidays, prior to the meeting.”