HISD redistricting on the horizon

This is likely to be a lot less contentious than other map-drawing exercises we’ve seen, but no redistricting exercise is ever completely bloodless.

Gene Locke of Andrews Kurth told [HISD] trustees they should have a plan to submit to the Justice Department by this July.

Redistricting is called for whenever there’s more than a 10 percent change in the population of a district, Locke said. While several of HISD’s districts remain about the same, [Richard] Murray said there’s been a large increase in District 9 (Larry Marshall’s area) and a decline in population in the north and east parts of the city since the 2000 census.

HISD is going to have to balance the demands of the Voting Rights Act which call for it to be cognizant of race and the Shaw v. Reno case of the 1990s which drawing on the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone from being included or excluded from a voting area based on race.

“You’re caught in a dilemma,” Locke said. “The Voting Rights Act says you have to recognize minority groups [in Houston that’s been identified as Vietnamese, Hispanics and African American, he said] but the 14th amendment says you can’t draw lines on race.”

According to Murray, census figures show Anglos declined by 30,000 overall, but increased by 20,000 in the inner city. African Americans dropped by 7,000 overall, he said. Asians increased by 41 percent, from 50,000 to 70,000 and are concentrated mostly in the Medical Center and Midtown areas.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Hispanic residents in Marshall’s district, Murray said. But the Hispanic population is declining in the east end and the Heights, he added.

Greg was on this in January, and he has a document from that time that outlined the process. I’ll be very interested to see what HISD does.

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