In January of this year I wrote a blog post about the effects of the 2010 U. S. Federal Census on congressional redistricting in Texas, and the important role that the rising Latino population is playing in that process. A recent article in the Houston Chronicle about the shape of Houston’s City Council maps showed how those population changes are affecting local government, and how important it is to make adjustments to ensure that all of Houston’s citizens are represented.
Because Houston’s population officially surpassed 2.1 million people as of the last census, Mayor Parker’s office introduced a redistricting map in April that created two new City Council districts. Local Latino leaders pointed out that as those two new districts were drawn, they did not appropriately reflect the growth of the Hispanic population that was noted in the census, and as a result, neither district would be likely to elect a Latino. In response to these plans, in late April, a local political consultant named Robert Jara presented a redistricting map to the Houston City Council creating a third new district in southwest Houston. The third district proposed by Mr. Jara, which would be based around Gulfton and Sharpstown, would consist of areas with a higher concentration of Hispanic residents, representing about 60% of the total population of the district. The map introduced by Mr. Jara has the support of current City Councilman James Rodriguez, and over 40 Latino community groups, who feel that it would be a better alternative to the map drawn by the city, which they say dilutes the Latino communities in those areas to about 50%.
The fact that the Latino community is standing strongly behind the proposed map has Mayor Parker’s attention. I hope that the Houston City Council will take note, and provide a fair chance for the Hispanic residents of the areas in question to make their voices heard in local elections.