Local man hopes to start voter social group in city of Bogalusa

Published 7:59 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bogalusa minister, the Rev. Keith Merrill, is trying once again to organize a voters’ information group.

He’s calling the group the “Bogalusa Political and Social Networking Group,” and Merrill said he would like the group to encourage people to register to vote and inform voters prior to local elections. Merrill has been trying for the past year-and-a-half to organize such a group, but he said he’s found a lack of interest.

“I can’t get much participation,” he said. “You get a lot of, ‘I will, I will’ and then you get a lot of excuses.”

Merrill said he believes such a group could educate voters and also reduce animosity during local election years.

“I want to try to organize the community, to help the community make an educated voting choice to try to bring the community together,” he said.

Merrill complained that during local elections, various divisive groups make educated voting difficult.

“When you’re dealing with city and parish elections, it gets haywire,” he said.

Merrill would not criticize any particular group or candidate and he said he has no political agenda other than trying to bring the community together.

“The biggest part is registering people to vote, and updating their voter information, which is horrible in Bogalusa,” he said.

Beyond that, Merrill said that heated rhetoric itself can cause voters to lose interest in politics altogether.

“People feel like they’ve been lied to too much,” he said.

Merrill also added that the group has nothing to do with his church activities. He said that in the past people have accused him of mixing politics with his ministry, and he said that’s not the case.

“This is not to promote politics in church or to use the ministry as a way to advance political agendas,” he said.

Merrill said he doesn’t want the group to advocate for any particular political agenda, and he hopes the group will include people from every part of the community.

“This is open to everybody, it’s not a race thing,” he said.

Finally, he said that during years when there are no local elections, the group could work to improve the community in other ways.

“The social part is getting people more involved in volunteer activities in Bogalusa,” he said. “Because it’s horrible trying to get people involved. Everybody wants to complain but then you ask them to help out, and they say, ‘No, I don’t have time.’”

To find out more about the group, call Merrill at 985-730-4384 or at 985-294-3307.