POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Voters in Pointe Coupee Parish decided on a plan to restructure their parish government and exchange the current system with a home rule charter.
Currently, Pointe Coupee has a police jury system consisting of 12 leaders representing 12 separate districts.
The system lacks a central, at-large leader. That has inspired criticism from several parish residents and leaders.
The new plan of a home rule charter includes eight council members representing separate districts as well as an at-large parish president.
Now that the plan has succeeded at the ballot box and has been adopted with 57 percent of the vote, the council and parish president will be elected in the fall of 2018. They would then take office in January 2019.
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Pointe Coupee has struggled over the years with concerns about equal representation for minority community members.
As a result, some in the African American community worried the new plan could quiet their voice at the parish level. Gail Hurst, who is a member of that community, helped write the new charter and said that is simply not the case.
The boundaries of the eight council districts in the charter fall along the same lines of the school board member districts. Those boundaries have been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"We did not lose black power," Hurst said of the plan. "You can elect four black council members and elect four black school board members. We've had four black school board members."
There was also some concern amongst certain community members that the council member districts will be larger under the proposal, meaning they have less focused attention.