About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Travis Commissioners begin horse trading over new redistricting maps
Let the horse trading begin.
Pct. 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt appears set to lose Pflugerville and gain a handful of heavily Republican boxes from Pct. 3 Commissioner Karen Huber’s jurisdiction. On top of that delicate situation, the court will have to find a way to add 10,000 voters to Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez’ electorate.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis – who stands to lose sections of his jurisdiction to Gomez as he gains Pflugerville from Eckhardt – drew a line at two precincts in the eastern portion of his jurisdiction. “(That area) has a significant black population – that’s Austin Colony and all those other folks,” he said. “If you really look at it, there are lots of black folks that reside (there).”
County redistricting consultant George Korbel presented the court with three potential maps. Each variation of the commissioners’ new districts contained a handful of variations. However, the general theme of Korbel’s work featured the same basic changes.
According to figures provided by Korbel, each of Travis’ four commissioners’ precincts is currently short in population with the exception of Huber’s Precinct 3. However, Gomez’ Precinct 4 is the only district that is under populated significantly enough to need some sort of correction.
Precinct 1 is shy of nearly 12,000 voters, Precinct 2 is light by roughly 5,700, and Precinct 4 lacks 26,144. Meanwhile, Pct. 3 is heavy by over 43,000 voters. Korbel’s figures put the ideal Travis district at just over 256,000.
The figures are based on data collected from the 2010 census.
Much concern seems to be placed on preserving African-American votes in Precinct 1. The current composition of voters in the county shows that only 12 percent of the eligible population in
Precinct 106 contains fewer than 4,000 voters, 42 percent of whom are white. The African-American population of the district is only 7 percent, while just under half of the population is Hispanic. Roughly 18 percent of the district is registered to vote.
Discussions became heated as Eckhardt challenged
Eckhardt was also concerned about one of the variations of the districts that she might pick up. “Those are fairly painful for me from a purely political standpoint,” she said. “Those are some seriously Republican boxes.”
Korbel tried to smooth things over. “I’ve represented a lot of people in a lot of redistricting and I’ve drawn an awful lot of plans,” he said. “I’ve never had one where everybody didn’t eventually agree.”
The maps will be presented to
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