Discussion Regarding Lubbock Redistricting Committee Recommendation Becomes Heated at Council Meeting
Discourse turned terse this morning during the Lubbock City Council meeting regarding City of Lubbock redistricting.
The 15-member redistricting committee presented their final recommendation for the redistricting of the City of Lubbock’s six Council districts, following public hearings in each district. 14 of the 15 committee members supported Model 1, the very first district model considered.
Redistricting Committee Chair and former Judge J.Q. Warnick said that the ideal population for each of Lubbock’s districts is 38,262.
A “one person, one vote” standard is required, meaning that each district is to have mostly-equal populations. These districts must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, and must not dilute racial representation or show signs of retrogression in minority-majority districts, meaning that the minority residents in a district must not be worse off than they were prior to the redistricting. There must not be more than 10 percent deviation between the most heavily populated and the least populated district.
Any map with districts that would not meet the criteria laid out by the Department of Justice would be rejected which, according to Warnick, is why ten potential maps implementing suggestions from attendees at the public hearings were never drafted and considered.
Of the four maps considered by the committee, three were submitted by committee member Olga Aguero and one from committee member Maurice Stanley.
When questioned about the committee’s choice of the first map, Warnick said that he believed that “Model 1 did the best job.”
“It meets the standard for one person, one vote, it meets the Voting Rights Act standards, and our attorneys have assured us that they feel like that map will walk right through with no problem at all,” Warnick elaborated.
District 1 Lubbock City Councilman Victor Hernandez took issue with the information available to those attending the public hearings, and what was needed for the group to draft new maps from issues raised by the constituents that attended the public hearings. No public speakers appeared at the public meetings in Districts 4, 5, and 6.
During the public hearings process, the committee decided to only accept recommendations in writing, through forms provided at the public hearing venue. Hernandez pressed Warnick on the decision, with concern that his own suggestions were not considered by the committee.
“It just was the best way for us to understand exactly what people were saying, and everyone who had made a suggestion to have a map, took one of those forms, successfully filled it out, and sent it to us, with the exception of yourself,” Warnick responded. He added that while Hernandez’s suggestions were recognized by the committee, they did not meet the standards required for consideration by the Department of Justice.
Hernandez continued to voice his displeasure with the requirement that all suggestions be submitted in writing, saying “If that was the standard established, that was not known by the public at large…people who provide input at these public hearings are not experts on redistricting.”
In the 2010 census benchmark, District 1 had only 33,096 residents. Model one, recommended by the Redistricting Advisory Committee, would make District 1 the largest council district in the City, with 39,489 residents. It would also increase the total minority voters within District 1 from 64 percent to nearly 68 percent.
The benchmark also shows District 2, represented by Councilman Floyd Price, as currently 84 percent minority. Under the recommended model, that percentage would decrease to just under 73 percent. District 5 has seen sizable growth, currently estimated at just over 44,800 residents within the district. Model one would reduce that number to over 38,200, and similar results are shown for District 6.
It is now up to the Lubbock City Council in the coming months to choose whether or not to approve Model 1 or modify it. The recommended district plan is included below.