Lubbock City Council begins drawing new districts to balance population
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock’s uneven population growth is influencing the redistricting process for the City Council. Members met Tuesday morning to discuss the first proposed maps believed in providing equal representation for voters.
“It takes fewer people in the district like number two right now to elect a council member than it would, technically, in District 5,” David Mendez of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP told the Lubbock City Council.
Mendez, a redistricting consultant for the City of Lubbock, told the council that based on 2020 Census data, District 5 is overpopulated with 56,498 people versus District 2 with 32,709. The ideal size for districts would be 42,914.
“Because you’re elected from single-member districts, then each voter under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution has a right to have equal representation at the dais and so one person, one vote,” Mendez said.
His proposed solution to the current unbalanced districts would bring populations closer to the ideal number. However, he said his challenge has been avoiding the dilution of the Hispanic and African American people in Districts 1 and 2.
“I have to find neighborhoods or election precincts that are at least as Hispanic or at least as African American as the one I’m trying to add it to,” Mendez said. “If not, I’m going to have a diluted effect. Everything I add dilutes these percentages. From the court’s standpoint, that’s an important issue. The courts want to see that these percentages are maintained.”
After citizen comment, the council and Mendez spent about two hours Tuesday in an executive session to discuss the new boundaries.
Peter Muhlberger, on behalf of the Texas Democratic Women of the South Plains, was the only citizen to comment in person.
“I think it’s important, obviously, to many of the citizens of Lubbock that they get fairly and equally represented,” Muhlberger told KCBD. “If they constitute a certain percentage of the population, and they are geographically distributed in such a way that they can have a safe majority district, then they should get a district that in which they are a safe majority, and are likely to be able to select their own councilmember.”
Some council members asked to see changes to the proposal from Mendez when they emerged from the executive session.
Mayor Dan Pope asked that the updated plans be presented at a November 30 meeting about redistricting. Citizens are invited to present their comments and/or proposals. The meeting is scheduled for 1:30 in the afternoon.
Maps and data discussed today are expected to be published on the City Secretary’s web page. You can access it by clicking here.
Final maps would go before the council for the first vote on December 7.
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