Black residents want more representation in Louisiana congressional delegation
Jacquelyn Germany, from Black Baton Rouge, is “sick and tired of not being fairly represented in Congress.”
Germany and several other black residents of Louisiana told state lawmakers that Louisiana’s black population – which makes up one-third of the state – should be better reflected in the state’s congressional delegation.
About a third of Louisiana’s population is black and predominantly Democratic, but only one of Louisiana’s six congressmen – Representative Troy Carter – is either black or a Democrat. The rest of the delegation is made up of white Republicans. Black residents like Germany have said the representation is unbalanced because the state’s political lines have been drawn for the benefit of Republicans.
“The time has come for fair cards. It’s time for fair representation. It’s time to make a difference, ”said Germany.
She and other residents testified Tuesday before the government affairs committee of the Louisiana Legislature at a public meeting on the redistribution of the political borders of the State at the University of the South in Baton Rouge. It was the fifth of ten hearings committees are holding around the state on political redistribution.
With new data from the U.S. census, the legislature will adjust political constituencies for its members of Congress, the Louisiana legislature, the state school board, and the Civil Service Commission for the next ten years. These adjustments will be pulled at an extraordinary redistribution session in early 2022.
Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, represented by Carter, is drawn to include parts of the New Orleans subway and Baton Rouge, the two largest cities in the state. Both cities also have a predominantly black population.
Many speakers believe Baton Rouge and New Orleans should be completely divided into at least two different congressional districts – which could give more black and Democratic candidates a shot at being elected.
Arielle McTootie, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said black residents would have “an equal chance of electing their preferred congressional candidates” if congressional districts were redesigned to fairly represent minorities.
“A map that includes all of Baton Rouge in a majority black second district would keep this community intact and allow Baton Rouge residents to participate equally in the political process,” McTootie said.
Rep. John Stefanski, a Crowley Republican and one of the lawmakers spearheading redistribution efforts, said he had heard “all kinds of considerations” about how to redesign political ridings from other lawmakers.
“Every committee member is interested in Congress and has an idea of what Congress should look like for them,” Stefanski said.
Political affiliation will be a factor in the redistribution process. Republicans have gained more power in the Louisiana Legislature since the last redistribution session in 2011. Democrats fear the new lines will be biased further in favor of the Conservatives.
Republicans hold a super-majority in the Louisiana Senate, but Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has the right to veto political district maps, giving his party some political clout.
When asked if Edwards would approve a political district map that would not have two predominantly black congressional districts, Stefanski said there had been no communication between his committee and the governor’s office.
“I don’t know and I don’t want to speculate on it,” Stefanski said.