Harris County Seeks 11th Hour Deal On Redistricting

Harris County Commissioners will convene for a special meeting to push through a redistricting plan that passes legal muster. The county has been in litigation with a group of plaintiffs who say the new redistricting map dilutes the voting strength of Hispanics.

On Monday morning, Harris County is due to go to trial in U.S. District Court over its redistricting map. But just before that trial gets underway, county attorneys hope to pass an interim plan that will satisfy the plaintiffs, who include City Council members James Rodriguez and Ed Gonzalez.

First Assistant County Attorney Terry O'Rourke says mediation ended unsuccessfully Thursday, but they'll work through the weekend to try and reach a conclusion.

"They want as many Hispanic people in Precinct Two, East Harris County, as possible on the theory that they can elect a Hispanic commissioner. And we've done everything possible to make it be as fair as it can be to both African-Americans in Precinct One and Hispanics and Precinct Two, consistent with the federal voting rights law."

Banking on the hope of succeeding with the plaintiffs some time over the weekend, county attorneys have asked the commissioners court to be ready for a last-minute vote on a new redistricting plan at nine Monday morning.

"The special meeting that the county judge has called is that if we can come to an agreement, the Commissioners' Court will approve it and then we can go over to federal court and not have to go through the time and money and effort for a trial for all sides."

The lawsuit, which was filed back in August, argues that the newly drawn map for Harris County disenfranchises Hispanic voters in Precinct Two on the east side of the county by adding areas like Kingwood and Atascocita to the precinct.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...