Editor’s note: Because of press deadlines, a story on the Sept. 3 meeting will be published online at www.selmaenterprise.com and in the Sept. 11 edition.
SELMA – Public input on the proposed City Council district election maps started with the Sept. 3 meeting and will continue at a Sept. 16 meeting. Whichever district map is finally selected will determine where residents must reside in order to run for a seat on the City Council to represent that area. Only residents in each district will vote for candidates from their district.
A final map will be posted on the City’s website Sept. 30 and then voted upon Oct. 7. Meetings start at 6 p.m. and take place in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1710 Tucker St.
The City must comply with state and federal criteria in creating these maps such as:
- Districts must have nearly equal population with the population goal being 4,744 people each.
- The final map must comply with Federal Voting Rights Act and not be drawn with race as the predominate factor.
- National Demographics Corporation had recommended:
- Each district consist of contiguous territory in as compact a form as possible.
- Each district respect communities of interest: School and park-connected neighborhoods, etc.
- Each district’s borders follow visible natural and man-made features, such as highways, canals, etc.
- Each district “respect previous choices of voters by avoiding creation of head-to-head contests between Council members previously elected by voters, insofar as this does not conflict with federal or state law.”
The sequencing of elections is under discussion as well. The demographer’s maps proposed that Councilmembers Jim Avalos, Louis Franco and Scott Robertson come up for election in the 2020 race and John Trujillo and Sarah Guerra would be up for election in the 2022 race.
There were 11 maps posted on the City of Selma’s website, however the eight proposed by residents were not balanced enough in population figures to meet legal requirements.
The three maps created by the professional demographers were as follows:
- Purple: Keeps current members in separate districts, tries to be reasonably compact, and follows major roads.
- Olive: Follows Council’s interest in seeing a map with multiple barrio and west side representatives.
- Tan: Only one barrio representative, but has two west side representatives; adds second representative for Downtown.
The released district maps drew criticism before the Sept. 3 meeting even took place. The maps divided up the City so that all current Council members were shown to live in different districts; however all the Council members reside in the northeast portion of town and two live on opposite sides of the same street block.
National Demographics has been hired to lead the City through the districting process.
Demographer Shalice Tilton spoke at a recent City Council meeting explaining that 2010 Census data will be used to determine districts now, but then reconfigured after 2020 Census data is released.
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Tilton said such factors as housing status, immigration status, languages spoken at home, education level, average age and previous voter turnout will be considered as the districts are drawn up.
Each of the five districts must contain approximately 4,744 people. That number will be allowed deviate only by 10 percent.
Tilton said race can be one factor in deciding districts, but it cannot the predominant one. Instead, districts need to be based on communities of interest as determined by such factors as school attendance areas, major streets, or areas of town with a particular interest - such as the Downtown area.
Another factor will be the number of people living in a district that are old enough to vote. Courts will look at the voting age category to determine the strength of each district and make sure the Council is “not diluting the voting strength of your protected class groups,” she said. “Protected class groups, in this case, are based on minority language.”
A post on the City’s website at http://bit.ly/2UkDN1p reads:
“What do you think of the Draft Maps?
Now that they are posted, the Council wants to hear what you like and dislike about each.
The Council wants to know not just which map(s) you like or dislike, but why you feel that way about each map. These are the first drafts, not necessarily the final maps, and future versions can include revisions aimed at addressing the concerns raised by residents.
Please take the time to look at them and share your thoughts, either before or at one of the upcoming Council hearings that are listed above.
And, as a reminder, you can still draw your own revisions to any of the posted Draft Maps.
The demographic profiles for each map are located in the demographic summary table below.”