SAN ANGELO – Local activists delayed a vote on once-a-decade redrawing of voting precinct maps Tuesday at a mandatory public hearing held by Tom Green County Commissioners.
The court was set to adopt a new county precinct boundary map required but the U.S. Constitution every ten years following the official U.S. census.
Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd said Tuesday that the court hired the Allison-Bass Law Firm to use advanced mapping software to aid in the redrawing of the precinct maps based on population, minority density, shared community issued and a host of other requirements.
The county has already held two public hearings to take input from the public on the new maps that will decide where voters cast ballots and who represents them as County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace and Constable.
Preliminary reports indicate census data shows that Pct. 3, the Grape Creek area, has grown by approximately 3,000 people in the last ten years while the northeast quadrant of the county, Pct. 1, including the Veribest area has lost population over the last ten years. Commissioners are charged with redrawing precinct boundaries to keep the population and minority percentages as equal as possible in each of the four precincts. For example, if there are 100,000 people residing in the county, the precinct boundaries should be drawn so each precinct has 25,000 people.
While changes to precinct boundaries in Tom Green County may seem trivial, the political reality of the county could have an impact for the next decade. The four County Commissioners and the County Judge are Republicans, as are all 27 of the elected officials in Tom Green County. Minority groups and party activist out of power could see the redrawing of precinct boundaries as political.
San Angelo National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Shirley Spears addressed commissioners Tuesday. Spears said that some people who might be interested in the redistricting process might not have the opportunity to attend a meeting during the day like the Commissioners Court meeting held Tuesday morning because they are at work. Spears requested the Court hold one final hearing after hours.
After a short discussion, the court agreed to hold a public hearing Friday night at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Court room to take additional public input on the proposed new maps.
The only substantive change proposed to the map would move voters from Pct.3 to Pct.1 in the area bounded by Junius St., Howard St., Webster St. and Hassell St. in west San Angelo.
See the map below:
Commissioners are required to approve the new maps by Saturday, Nov. 13. The new maps have to be in place because they will be used for the March 1, 2022 primary elections.
The court will take final action on the new maps after taking public input Friday evening at the special called meeting.