Things were unsurprisingly partisan, as is the nature of redistricting as we do it.
After much confusion, heated discussion, and repeated delays, the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 on Friday to adopt new precinct boundaries.
The redistricting map was proposed by Fort Bend County Judge KP George. The map moves Needville and Fairchilds out of Precinct 1, Katy and Simonton out of Precinct 3, and extends Precinct 4 from Houston to Kendleton, dividing the county.
The map calls for Precinct 1 to include Simonton, Katy, Cinco Ranch, and part of Richmond and Rosenberg.
“After several weeks of discussions by Fort Bend County Commissioner’s, a clear majority adopted a progressive redistricting map that reflects the historic growth and change of the most diverse county in the nation, that will carry into the next decade,” said George, who voted in favor of his map along with fellow Democrats Grady Prestage, who represents Precinct 2, and Ken DeMerchant, who represents Precinct 4.
Precinct 1 Commissioners Vincent Morales Jr. and Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers voted against the map.
Fort Bend County began the redistricting process in September and has worked tirelessly to meet the Nov. 13 deadline set by the state to submit redistricting maps, George said.
“We listened to the concerns of the public over these past several weeks and the desire for more equitable representation,” he said. “The map I presented best represents the county and is reflective of the growth and changes in our community. This is historic, we set out to achieve proportional, fair, and equitable representation for all Fort Bend County residents. The approved map is the consensus of all voices and brings everyone together.”
Morales proposed substituting George’s map with the Precinct 4 map submitted by Commissioner DeMerchant.
He and Meyers both believed DeMerchant’s map was fairer than George’s and provided for two Republican precincts and two Democrat precincts as present precinct boundaries call for. George and all four commissioners presented redistricting maps for consideration.
Members of the public also provided maps for consideration but they were not discussed at Friday’s meeting because the presenters were not available to explain the maps. George and all four commissioners said their maps were fairer than the others.
Meyers said his map would have kept communities of interest together in the same precinct, as well as subdivisions, neighborhoods, municipal utility districts, and levee improvement districts.
See here and here for some background. The county’s redistricting page hasn’t been updated since I first looked at it, but Dave’s Redistricting App confirms that the map should end up with three Democratic Commissioners. The twist here is that it won’t happen until the 2024 election, because the two current Republicans were on the ballot last year. Better make sure County Judge KP George wins re-election, so as to avoid another new map being drawn. Commissioner Meyers said there would be litigation over this map, though it’s hard to see on what grounds it would be challenged, given the current state of play.
As for this year, there will be a Commissioner’s race of interest as former HCC Trustee Neeta Sane has announced her intent to run in Precinct 4, against first-term Commissioner Ken DeMerchant. I don’t know yet what my primary interview schedule is going to look like, but I might try to cover that one. Filing season has begun, so I at least will have a better idea of how busy I’m going to be over the next couple of months soon. The Fort Bend Star and the Fort bend Independent have more.