Dallas Redistricting Advances Amid Neighbor Concerns

A pool of possible maps to be reduced Monday night

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Big decisions were scheduled for Monday night in this decade’s Dallas redistricting fight to narrow the field of proposed maps.

From the pool of dozens of possible maps for 14 city council districts, the Redistricting Commission appointed to present a plan to the Dallas City Council was to select two or three finalists.

The new plan is required to level the population in each and provide fair representation based on demographic characteristics from the 2020 Census.

Downtown and Uptown Dallas District 14 with many large new apartments currently have thousands more residents than other districts.

People in some neighborhoods fear they will lose clout for service delivery from City Hall with new district lines.

“Right now we finally have a voice at City Hall and they want to split us,” West Dallas Community Leader Debbie Solis said.

She successfully fought to save the historic Eagle Ford School near her home. But some of the proposed maps divide the school and her home from other parts of the Eagle Ford Ledbetter community. She wants all of West Dallas to remain united for a stronger voice at City Hall.

“We have the same thing in common. We worked together and we needed each other,” Solis said. “We need more time we didn't even know they were splitting us apart.”

Dallas map expert Bill Betzen has participated in past redistricting battles. He submitted dozens of options of his own to this year’s pool of proposed redistricting maps.

“Debbie Solis's concerns can be solved easily and quickly and should be because she's right. West Dallas should all be united north of I-30 into the same district,” Betzen said.

Monday Betzen was supporting a map proposed by Redistricting Commissioner Domingo Garcia, with a stipulation that Garcia’s map would be amended to keep all of West Dallas united.

Garcia’s map more closely levels the population in each district.

“It should very reasonably be nine minority districts, four Hispanic, four Black and one that’s a minority opportunity district that goes either way,” Betzen said. "We did this with the shortest boundary lines in history. So in other words, we are, strictly speaking, cutting up the least neighborhoods that have ever been cut up in the history of single-member districts in Dallas.”

Garcia’s map joins Uptown and near East Dallas' M Streets neighborhoods with Kessler Park in Oak Cliff.

It puts the traditionally Black Elm Thicket neighborhood in North Dallas in predominately white District 13, which some Elm Thicket residents spoke against Monday.

“Elm Thicket North Park is one of Dallas's largest historically Black neighborhoods north of the Trinity River. What we want to make sure is that our history is not forgotten,” resident Jonathan Maples said.

After months of past meetings, the Redistricting Commission spent hours listening to public speakers again Monday. It was scheduled to debate finalists Monday night.

More commission sessions are scheduled for amendments and the Dallas City Council gets a final say on the future district map to be used in next year’s elections.

So, there is still time to join the Dallas Redistricting fight.

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