Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

June 24, 2011

County continues decennial redistricting process

The county’s decennial redistricting process, which will adjust precinct and voting districts for county residents, continued Monday with a meeting of the 10-member citizen advisory committee.

Baylor University Law Professor David Guinn spelled out rules, procedures and responsibilities for redistricting to committee members.

Guinn told the committee members that minority residents will need to be protected in the redistricting process, as well as using results of the 2010 Census.

“Professor Guinn went over all the rules with the committee and told them their responsibilities,” said Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon. “Not all of them but some of them would probably receive a call from the Justice Department asking them in their opinion whether everything was done properly and if they had any concerns.”

Although not finalized, the preliminary redistricting plan would place 37,009 people in Precinct 1, which contains Rio Vista, the western part of Cleburne and part of Godley.

Precinct 2, which contains Joshua and most of Burleson, would have 39,208 residents.

Precinct 3, which contains Briaroaks, Cross Timber and Mansfield, would have 38,036 residents, and Precinct 4, which contains Keene, Grandview and the eastern part of Cleburne, would have 36,681 residents.

The 2010 Census puts the population of the county at 150,934 with 35,390 minority residents, accounting for 23.45 percent of the population.

The ideal number of residents in each precinct would be about 37,733, Harmon said, but federal law allows for a 10 percent deviation from those numbers.

The preliminary plan would put the county at a 6.7 percent deviation, Harmon said.

With the population growth of Burleson and the northern part of the county, adjustments in precinct boundaries will need to be made by commissioners.

“We had a couple of concerns where Precinct 1 and 2 touch. We may have to shift some areas there because we’re trying to find the right voting box,” Harmon said. “That is a real rural area where it is north and northwest of Godley. Finding a location for people to vote at is going to be some difficult there, so we may have to make some adjustments.”

The court must also make allowances for constables and justice of the peace magistrates who, according to state law, must reside in the precinct where they work, Harmon said.

Harmon said that they will be able to finalize the boundaries for precincts 1 and 4 once the city of Cleburne completes redistricting of its wards.

“They take the lead there because they are single member districts, not elected at large,” Harmon said. “Because they are single member districts, the voting boxes have to line up with Cleburne. We can’t make the final decision on ours until Cleburne makes the boundary lines of their wards.”

Commissioners hope to complete the process, which will include a second committee meeting and a public hearing, by the end of July, with the U.S. Department of Justice having the final say on any redistricting plan.

The members of the committee include Ann Watson of Cleburne, Vinsen Faris of Godley, R.C. McFall of Godley, David Johnson of Cleburne, Dan Boutwell of Burleson, Sharon Wright of Burleson, Manuel Trevino of Burleson, Tam Phillips of Alvarado, Yddo Ortiz of Keene and Crystal Holmes of Grandview.

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