County Commissioner Ken Clark

Alert 18

Redistricting

 


I hope your summer is going well. Please continue to pray for those who
suffer because of Allison. Below is some of the detail on Galveston
County redistricting, the plans (as of 7/12/01) discussed below and many
more can be viewed on the counties web site.

http://www2.co.galveston.tx.us 

Then go to redistricting and view maps
and population breakdowns. Additional plans may be presented at the
public hearings.

Please call if have any questions or suggestions.
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Scheduled Hearings:

The Commissioners Court will be holding public hearings next week at the
following dates and times:

July 16, 2001 7:00 p.m.

City of League City
Johnny Arolfo Civic Center Ballroom 

400 West Walker
League City, Texas 77573

July 17, 2001 7:00 p.m.

Galveston County West County Bldg.
Justice of the Peace, Pct. 4 Courtroom
11730 Highway 6
Santa Fe, Texas 77510

July 19, 2001 7:00 p.m.

College of the Mainland

Learning Resource Center Auditorium
L131
1200 Amburn Road
Texas City, Texas 77591

July 23, 2001 9:00 a.m.

Commissioners’ Court Workshop Room
Ray Holbrook Building
601 Tremont
Galveston, Texas 77550

The hearings will address redistricting of both justice of the
peace/constable precincts and county commissioner precincts.

Justice of the Peace/Constable Precincts

In 1992 the NAACP sued Galveston County, arguing that black voters were
not adequately represented. The county spent $350,000 on legal expenses
before the court ordered that an additional (9th) justice of the
peace/constable precinct be created.

The 9th precinct is one more precinct than the Texas Constitution
allows. The court’s order expires at the end of this year, which means
Galveston County must come into constitutional compliance by eliminating
at least one precinct. Moreover, we must avoid reducing the minority
percentages of precincts 2 and 3, which would risk additional lawsuits.

In an effort to cut costs, Commissioners Court considered eliminating as
many as five precincts, but geographical limitations led a majority of
the court to support a plan with eight precincts. Commissioners Court
will now decide how to divide the county into those eight precincts.

The county judge has presented a plan that would pack the
heavily-populated north county into two precincts, eliminating one of
the three that currently exist. Each of the current north county
precincts have over 35,000 people; under the judge’s proposed plan they
would have approximately 50,000 people each. (See the chart below.)

  Current 
Population

Population under 
County Judge’s 
Proposed Plan

Precinct 1

43,008

32,880

Precinct 2

15,781

25,909

Precinct 3

24,132

24,024

Precinct 4

27,904

27,897

Precinct 5

27,131

32,813

Precinct 6

37,659

  ---

Precinct 7

35,061

49,985

Precinct 8

35,629

52,797

Precinct 9

3,853

3,853



At the same time, the county judge’s proposed plan would leave one
precinct with less than 3,900 people. In other words, a precinct with
less than 8% of the population of the north county precincts would
receive the same level of county services.

Although this deviation seems odd at first blush, it is completely
calculated. While the proposed plan disenfranchises people living in
the north county, it manages to eliminate one north county justice of
the peace and one north county constable, while preserving all current
south county officeholders. Moreover, as the tremendous growth in the
north part of the county continues, League City and Friendswood’s level
of representation will be diluted even further.

I have proposed a justice of the peace/constable plan that would provide
fair representation to all Galveston County Residents. I have proposed
that Commissioners Court divide current precinct 5 between precinct 3
and 7, with precinct 3 getting the area south of Palmer Highway, and
precinct 7 getting the area north of Palmer Highway.

My plan would provide fairest possible representation by justices of
the peace and constables, and fairest levels of county services to
county residents.

Commissioners Court Precincts

The commissioners court lines must be apportioned by population with no
more that a 10% variance between the largest and smallest districts.
The ideal district would be 62,540 people; 65,677 people is the largest
permitted, and the smallest permitted is 59,413 people. Additionally,
the overall plan cannot be retrogressive to the minority-majority
precinct, Precinct 3. (In other words, minority-voting strength in
Precinct 3 may not be diluted.) Because of population shifts within the
county, significant changes to the commissioner court precinct lines are
necessary. Precincts 1 and 3 must gain population, and Precincts 2 and
4 must lose population.

The county judge has presented a plan that has been designated “Plan
2.” There are four features of Plan 2 that I would like to highlight:

 

Current
 Population

Population 
under Plan 2

 Population under 
Ken Clark’s
Plan(c)

Precinct 1

54,976

62,546

61,880

Precinct 2

65,096

60,045

62,625

Precinct 3

52,656

62,758

63,288

Precinct 4

77,430

64,809

62,365


  
+ Plan 2 gives Precinct 4 the most population of the four and puts most
of the developing subdivisions into that precinct, as well. As a
result, the portion of the county with the fastest growth will get both
(1) the least representation and (2) further diluted representation, as
growth continues in the north county. (See the chart at left.) Again,
this is not an accident; it is designed to pack and dilute
representation of north county residents.
+ In the criteria adopted by Commissioners Court to guide it in
redistricting, the court said that it would divide the larger cities
between commissioners. Under the proposed Plan 2, Galveston would
continue to be represented by 3 commissioners, 2 would represent Texas
City, and League City would be represented by 3. In League City’s case,
though, two of the commissioners would only have token population in the
city. In contrast, Galveston Island has substantial population in three
commissioners precincts.
+ Making precinct 4 the heaviest precinct coming out of redistricting
could have constitutional implications by violating the one-man/one vote
doctrine. If current growth trends continue at the same rate as the
last ten years, League City alone will have 68,000 residents by the next
redistricting cycle in 2010. Commissioners court lines could become
unconstitutional and result in litigation well before that time if the
county judge’s Plan 2 is adopted.
+ The proposed Plan 2 is inequitable because it essentially packs the
north county into one precinct while splitting Galveston between three,
giving the south county three times the representation as the north.

I have proposed a plan (C) for commissioner precincts that provides fair
and adequate representation to all residents of Galveston County. Under
my plan, no district varies more than 1.2% from the ideal size. In
contrast, Plan 2 creates a district with more than three times that
deviation by packing north county residents. My plan also splits the
high-growth areas of the county between three precincts, instead of
packing them into one. Under my plan, representation should remain
relatively fair and balanced in the coming years.

Let Your Opinion Be Known

While I work hard to protect your rights and ensure that you are fairly
represented, I am only one vote on a five-person commissioners court.
If you care about fair and adequate representation—representation that
will affect you and your community for the next decade—please attend one
or more of the scheduled redistricting hearings and make your opinion
known. Now is the time to let your voice be heard. I look forward to
seeing you at these very important hearings.


281-316-8745 Or Fax 281-316-2000
E-mail clarkk@co.galveston.tx.us 174 Calder Rd., League City, TX 77573

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