St. George petition almost ready to submit
BATON ROUGE - The push to create a new city in East Baton Rouge Parish reached a major milestone last night, as it's one step closer to vote on the ballot.
"It is a big milestone," said Lionel Rainey, spokesman for the Committee to Incorporate St. George. "Last night we celebrated, today we're back to work."
Those collecting signatures to create the city of St. George said the goal has been met and they have enough signatures to turn in their petitions. But the want to add extras for security.
"We know that some will be thrown out, Rainey said. "In any petition process some are thrown out. We need 1,500 to 2,000 more signatures."
When finally turned in, the verification process promises to be a tedious one.
"We have 17 employees and all will be working on the petition when submitted," said Elaine Lamb, East Baton Rouge Registrar of Voters.
Those 17 employees are tasked with verifying nearly 20,000 signatures, just as the November election season ramps up.
"Whatever it takes to get the job done, we're going to do it," Lamb said.
Opponents of the St. George movement think the petition may already be invalid, since recent annexations have shifted city limits.
"They said 'we're going to create a city with these particular boundaries,' it's written on the petition," said East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado. "Those boundaries are now changed."
And should it be a successful vote in favor of creating a new city, the legal challenges will remain from existing municipalities.
"If they're ultimately successful by vote, adversely affected cities like Baker, Baton Rouge, Central, will likely file suit to prevent it from going forward," Delgado said. "That's the remedy cities have."
After verification from the registrar of voters, the petition is sent to the governor's office. From there the St. George incorporation vote would be put on the ballot.