Pollster: St. George has strong momentum
BATON ROUGE - A longtime political pollster in EBR believes the St. George movement would pass if a vote were held immediately, but adds a lot could change between now and the likely election.
"I think the average voter [in the proposed city of St. George] feels disenfranchised," said Bernie Pinsonat with Southern Media and Opinion Research. The pollster said he doesn't have current data but did conduct a non-partisan poll on the issue last year.
"There's a natural inclination for them to not feel part of the system, to not feel part of the process. What they're doing is creating an isolated area within the parish where they determine their own fate with their own government," said Pinsonat.
Monday, the Louisiana Attorney General's office announced the St. George incorporation petition was certified by the EBR Registrar of Voters. It next heads to the governor for verification before an election date is set.
If Pinsonat is correct, then St. George opposition groups like Better Together will have their work cut out for them.
"We are going to continue on the same path we've always been, on a fact-finding mission and a fact-giving mission," said Better Together Executive Director M. E. Cormier.
The EBR city-parish estimates the incorporation of St. George would cost the consolidated government $48 million annually, a major blow to its budget. However, only voters inside the proposed city will be allowed to decide the issue, and that's who Better Together has to convince not to break away.
In its campaign, Better Together will continue to question the claims made by St. George organizers. "I feel like their budget [for the proposed city] is not realistic. Taxes are going to be raised, that is a definitive truth," said Cormier.
Better Together is also examining its copy of the certified petition for conflicts that could lead to a legal challenge.