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City council to discuss redistricting criteria

By Brian Cuaron
July 4, 2011 at 2:04 a.m.

OTHER ISSUES ON THE AGENDAProposed funding allocation of the Community Development Block Grant. Part of it is used to fund local nonprofits

Report on drought contingency issues

Report on future appointments to the planning commission, Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission, Food Establishment Appeals Board and the Parks Commission

Ordinance to provide $87,067 for five power cots and six track stair chairs for the Victoria Fire Department

The Victoria City Council could adopt redistricting criteria when it meets Tuesday.

The 11-point recommended criteria was provided by Allison, Bass & Associates, the law firm hired by the city for redistricting.

The goal of redistricting is to even out the population in the four council districts as much as possible, using the 2010 census data.

Point No. 8 ensures incumbents won't be redistricted out of their districts.

Robert Bass, who oversees the redistricting for the law firm, said the courts have recognized representatives' experience is valuable to the public.

Bass said state and federal office holders get redistricted out of office due to politics.

Yet Viola Saenz, chair of the citizens redistricting committee, said at the committee's meeting on Thursday she didn't think they could ensure a continuity of leadership.

Councilman Gabriel Soliz doesn't agree with the clause. He said it could lead to gerrymandering by drawing lines to preserve an incumbent.

"A person is not important. The structure is," Soliz said.

Point No. 3 said the redistricting plan should preserve minority communities of interest.

The law firm's proposed redistricting plan does this by making sure District 1 has a 59.90 percent Hispanic population. District 2 would have a 69.20 percent Hispanic population.

Meanwhile, Districts 3 and 4 have a 66.24 percent and 51.82 percent Anglo population, respectively, under the proposal.

The Voting Rights Act requires entities to preserve the electoral power of minorities where they have significant size and compactness, Bass said.

When the act refers to minorities, it's referring to ethnicities who have suffered electoral discrimination, Bass said.

Soliz, District 2 councilman, said he wants demographic-neutral districts. He said that the small parity between the Anglo and Hispanic communities make that possible.

He also said that packing his district with a Hispanic population of more than 65 percent was going beyond what was necessary.

Soliz added that he was the first Hispanic to be elected from his district in the last 10 years, voiding the theory that a significant Hispanic population will elect a Hispanic representative.

Councilman Joe Truman said he was fine with the proposed plan because it had two stacked Anglo and Hispanic districts. He represents Super District 5, which includes council Districts 1 and 2.



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