Supporters of proposed City of St. George say movement is picking up steam

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - They've not run any paid advertisements and the number of signatures on their petition is hush-hush, but the people behind the proposed City of St. George say the movement is picking up steam. That's despite a lack of supporters showing up at a recent school board meeting in East Baton Rouge Parish, when the group asked them to.

Some say that shows people in Baton Rouge are not ready for another area to split from the city.

Six months ago, the effort to create a school district in the unincorporated southern part of EBR sparked the St. George movement.  Residents have picked sides, some putting up signs that read "I'm in" in support of creating the City of St. George.  Others have yard signs that read "Better Together" in support of keeping the city whole.

"All of us want to see a better school system," said Mayor Kip Holden.  "But it does not entail somebody having to form a different city in order to do that."  Holden has been against the separation since the beginning.

"We're actually picking up more volunteers every week, our turnout gets better and better every weekend," said Lionel Rainey, III, spokesman for the movement to incorporate St. George.

He says the group has not lost any momentum, they're just focused on meeting a goal of collecting signatures on a petition to have the people vote on whether they want the City of St. George.

Rainey would not say how many signatures they currently have, explaining that at the beginning of the year they made a choice to stop showcasing how many signatures they'd collected.

"It's not about the numbers, it's about why this is being done."

The next time a number is released, Rainey says, it will be when they turn in the petition to the Registrar of Voters.  But he would not say what their target date is.

Aside from that, he says, anything else is a distraction.

Like the recent news of the canceled panel at LSU to discuss St. George.  Rainey says on the panel were three groups who opposed the incorporation, making it three against one.  But he says they did not ask for it to be canceled.

There was also a call out for St. George supporters to show up at the last school board meeting in EBR, no one showed.  So why ask people to show up?

"We put the call out for people who wanted to have their voice be heard.  But apparently people are so disenfranchised with the East Baton Rouge School System they saw there was no need."

Rainey insists that has no effect on how many are supporting their efforts and that things remain strong.  Strong, is what the mayor says the city should be, as one.

"Why divide us when we have too much to work on together?"  Holden asked.

The spokesman says they need 18,000 signatures to put the issue to a vote, on the November ballot.  Rainey also added they welcome a debate with the other side, as long as it's moderated by an impartial party.

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