Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter
Fort Worth residents have one last chance to weigh in on new city council boundaries. Districts had to be redrawn after a 34 percent shift in the Hispanic population.
The Fort Worth City Council is just weeks away from deciding on new boundaries for its eight council districts.
On Tuesday night, the council held its final public hearing on redistricting, listening to presentations from both city staff and the public.
Several council districts have to shrink, while many others need to grow in their size and shape to make the districts virtually even following a 38.6 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2010.
"The most growth has occurred in District 2 and District 7, so in far north and northwest Fort Worth, so those are the districts that need to shrink in size," said Dana Burghdoff, deputy director of planning and development.
City staff have put out a draft version of a map that leads districts to expand clockwise around Loop 820. Members of the public have also submitted maps, including the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County.
Redistricting Committee Chair Fernando Florez submitted three such maps. He and the Hispanic Council say they want to ensure the city has two majority Hispanic districts for the first time.
"That's the bottom line," Florez said. "if we had 10 percent, than one would be fine. But with 34 percent (Hispanics), make it possible to elect a Hispanic. I'm not saying elect a Hispanic, but make it possible."
Florez said his proposed maps would move a key voting block out of District 9, which typically decides the area's representative.
"That would level the playing field for the core of the district," he said.
Florez said getting a second opportunity at a council representative would be fair to the growing Hispanic population, as well as serve as a motivator to the community and the youth in the area.
"We need to show that, we as Hispanics, we are just as capable to sit up there and make policy that will affect everybody," he said.
Burghdoff said the city would like to see two Hispanic majority districts and that it's something it can achieve. She also said two opportunity districts for blacks is also possible under the staff's proposed plan.
The City Council will decide by July 24 which map to submit to the Department of Justice for review.