Fort Worth City Council Could Expand

City's growth prompts calls for additional council districts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Fort Worth City Council could be getting bigger.

    Numbers from the 2010 Census show the city grew by 38.6 percent over the last decade, and the City Council could add two council districts.

    "This is all about governing people," Mayor Betsy Price said. "We want the people to have the say so. We want the input on that whether we stay at eight plus the mayor or whether we go 10 plus the mayor."

    In a citizens' satisfaction survey completed in May, Price said most residents were leaning toward the expansion, a move that comes with some tricky issues.

    A Bigger Fort Worth City Council?

    [DFW] A Bigger Fort Worth City Council?
    The Fort Worth City Council will debate whether to increase the number of council districts from eight to ten after new census data shows the city keeps growing.

    "There really are pros and cons. All of it is going to take some redistricting," Price said. "We know we have to shift people around, but it's whether we want to add extra council member or not."

    Price said she hasn't decided one way or the other just yet, preferring to be guided by public opinion.

    Opinions on the council certainly vary. Councilman Sal Espino, who represents the Northside, is in favor of adding two districts. But Councilman Frank Moss, who represents parts of east and south Fort Worth, is leaning toward keeping the present system.

    "With going to 10, you would cut some of the diversity within some of the districts," Moss said.

    Moss said that going to 10 would force districts to represent narrower areas that have narrower concerns. He said it would be better to have districts that cover the diversity the city offers in terms of growth, wealth and race.

    Moss, one of two blacks on the council, said he isn't sure if adding a second district would add a minority vote to the council.

    It would be the council's first expansion since 1975, when the city adopted the current single-member eight districts and citywide mayor.

    Adding council districts would come with a cost. A special charter election costing $500,000 would have to be held. And there would also be staffing costs for council aides and staff, the council members themselves and superficial changes to where the council meets.

    "We'd have to redo the table, have a bigger dais, there's a lot that would need to be done," Price said. "But that doesn't mean we won't be willing to do it if that's what Fort Worth wants."

    Ultimately, how citizens want to move forward is the greatest factor for her, Price said. She said she wants more public input in the process.

    Friday is the last day to submit written public comment to the city, but a public hearing will be held Oct. 18. The council will make a decision Nov. 1.

    "When we hear from 10, that's not a good representation," Price said. "We need to hear from a lot of people. We need a lot of people to weigh in on this decision."