Petition to incorporate St. George moving forward, attorney general says
BATON ROUGE - Attorney General Jeff Landry says the registrar of voters affirmed and certified that more than 25 percent of voters have signed a petition to incorporate St. George as its own city.
Landry's office says Registrar of Voters Steve Raborn has forwarded this certificate to the governor to determine if it complies with Louisiana law.
"Over 14,500 different registered voters signed their name on this and said, 'We want the right to be able to vote to determine our future,'" St. George Leader Lionel Rainey III said in October. "So it's a big day, it's an exciting day. It's been a lot of hard work."
This petition comes after the movement failed once before. In 2015, the first petition got thrown out of court after the group fell 71 valid signatures short.
St. George organizers submitted 17,102 signatures to be vetted by Raborn's staff. Raborn reported 14,585 signatures were verified of the needed 12,996.
Organizers of the proposed new city in the southeastern part of East Baton Rouge told WBRZ Monday, an election will likely come in the fall. There are two scheduled elections for the end of 2019: In October and a second in November. Though, a special election could be called. A firm election date was not immediately set.
Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome released the following statement in response to the news:
"Today we learned that the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters verified the signatures needed to put the proposed City of St. George measure on the ballot. This proposition significantly affects every resident of East Baton Rouge Parish. If and when an election is scheduled, it is my hope that the election date is one in which high voter turnout is anticipated.
I encourage not only those who reside inside the proposed city’s boundaries, but all residents of the parish, to closely evaluate the proposal prepared by St. George organizers as well as the independent analyses that outline the proposed city’s impact on the City-Parish and the services it claims it will provide.
It is now incumbent upon St. George organizers to honestly and truthfully address the many questions that have been raised by citizens over the course of the past year. Citizens across the parish deserve to have a clear understanding of how this proposed city would impact their personal finances. Economists who have studied the proposal stated that St. George would operate in a deficit and would have no choice but to raise taxes to provide adequate services to its residents.
I am committed to keeping Baton Rouge together and firmly believe we are stronger as a whole. Recent history demonstrates that when we unite around common goals we are able to find workable solutions that benefit every resident of this parish."
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