Mayor Considers Citizen Plans for Redistricting
by: Laurie Johnson, April 20, 2011 9:04:00 pm
Ten townhall meetings and three public hearings provided an opportunity for citizens to voice their ideas and concerns over how Houston's council districts will be drawn.
The ideas are as diverse as the city and many of them won't pass legal muster.
But Houston Mayor Annise Parker says some of the ideas have merit.
"There's a lot of really great dialogue. People are approaching this respectfully, they're approaching it with an understanding that Houston is an amazingly diverse city and sometimes if you pull a string in one part of town it tugs something on the other side of town."
Citizens have submitted maps based almost exclusively on geographical boundaries. Others have suggested doing away with the city's At-Large council seats and switching to an entirelydistrict-based model.
Parker says one advantage of the map submitted by her administration is it meets Department of Justice requirements for redistricting.
"Either the staff map that I've already proposed will be the starting point when we actually move to vote. Or the administration may choose to back one of the other maps that's being considered. But then councilmembers will have the opportunity to substitute other maps."
The city must authorize newly drawn council districts by mid-May in order to get Justice Department clearance in time the election filing deadline.