St. George petition verification pushed back

City Hall Buzz

The final verification of the petition to incorporate the proposed city of St. George will not come until Wednesday or Thursday, the Registrar’s Office said Tuesday morning.

On Monday, the Registrar’s Office estimated that they would finish verifying the petition today or Wednesday. Aimee Pourciau, administrative assistant in the office, said they have combed through the petition’s signatures but are still removing names of people who signed and have since asked to be withdrawn.

The Registrar’s Office must validate forms from 139 people who asked for their names to be removed.

It is already too late for a St. George vote to appear on May ballots, as the deadline for doing so passed last week. If the petition has enough signatures, St. George backers could hold their election in the fall at the same time the public votes for governor.

An anti-St. George group called Better Together has estimated that the petition will come up around 2,000 signatures short. St. George backers need signatures from 25 percent of people within the proposed city’s boundaries to qualify for an election.

An estimated 18,000 people signed the petition, but the Registrar’s Office will not disclose the official number.

The Registrar’s Office has tossed 17.5 percent of the names on the petition.

If the St. George petition does not have enough signatures to hold an election, St. George backers will have 60 days to collect more signatures and return to the Registrar’s Office. Lionel Rainey, St. George spokesman, said they have at least 1,250 signatures ready to go in case of a shortfall.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has also stepped into the St. George debate by promising to push for better schools in Baton Rouge, which is one of the most popular reasons why people have supported the St. George incorporation effort.

“If today’s news means that the creation of a new city is unlikely, we believe that the push for better public education options there and throughout the parish must continue; in fact, we must redouble those efforts,” said BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp in a statement. “…The business community remains enthusiastically supportive of the creation of more neighborhood schools and more programs responsive to the needs of all our citizens. “

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