City Council Rejects Independent Redistricting Commission

“On Tuesday, the council voted 8-1 to adopt a resolution laying out guidelines for how the 10 districts should be drawn and establishing a timeline for the work. Residents interested in drawing maps of their own can receive training on mapping software from the city this month.

“Several residents, including half of the panel tasked with making the guidelines, wanted the council to explore independent redistricting.

“Fernando Florez, a member of Citizens for Independent Redistricting and the United Hispanic Council, spoke at several recent council meetings including Tuesday night when he called on the council to adopt an amendment to establish an independent redistricting commission.

“Fort Worth suffers from unfair representation, Flores argued, noting the city’s large and growing Hispanic population. Poor representation has been the main cause of division in the city, he said.

“‘It’s at the root of the lack of trust in our municipal government, low voter turnouts and the list goes on,’ he said, telling the council to adopt independent redistricting before the 2023 election.

“Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, who is running for mayor, made a motion to include language that the council would consider an independent commission after this year’s election and before the next council election. That failed when none of the council colleagues offered to second the motion.

“She was the lone ‘no’ vote on approving the guidelines.”

“Flores and other speakers Tuesday argued an independent redistricting commission would avoid these conflicts. With a video played for the council that used automated speech, Byrwec Ellison argued such a commission would avoid carving up neighborhoods and the impression council districts were drawn with a political position in mind.

“If the council didn’t consider independent redistricting before the 2030 Census, it would be ‘a slap in the face,’ said Jeralynn Cox. She noted that the Race and Culture Task Force recommendations that the council approved in 2018 called for independently drawn council maps.

“’Allowing maximum citizen participation in the process of drawing the line that will in large part determine who gets elected is an important part of reestablishing community faith in government,’ she said.”