Smith County commissioners received a 2021 redistricting initial assessment during their September 28 regular commissioners court meeting.
Claudia Russell, representing the Austin firm Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado, Acosta, LLP, reviewed relevant initial information from the 2020 census data.
The 2020 county population is 233,479 — an 11.33% increase from the 2010 population of 209,714. This places Smith County slightly below the state’s growth average of 15.9%.
Russell’s presentation reviewed various laws and practices governing the redistricting process including, but not limited to, the constitutional requirement that single-member districts must have approximately equal populations. The total population deviation among districts should be less than 10%.
A look at Smith County data reveals Commissioner Neal Franklin’s Precinct 1 experienced the greatest amount of growth, while Commissioner JoAnn Hampton’s Precinct 4 showed the least. The overall population deviation is 21.49%, resulting in the need for redrawing some of the precinct lines.
Russell presented thematic drawings, delineating areas of Smith County’s minority populations.
The Commissioners Court has established a timeline for redrawing precinct lines and receiving public input, as follows.
October 19, 9:30 am – Discussion of potential new precinct lines,
Interactive, real-time redrawing of potential line variations to consider. A public hearing for citizen suggestions and feedback will be included.
October 26, 9:30 am – Discussion of the draft map showing potential new lines, additional interactive redrawing of potential lines and discussion as needed. A public hearing will be included.
November 2, 9:30 am: Final Adoption – discussion and vote to adopt the newly redrawn precinct lines.
The court adopted specific guidelines for persons submitting redistricting suggestions and providing comments. Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said, “These are standard guidelines that have been in place for many decades. They are case law driven.” The court also adopted the criteria, seen below, that will drive the remaining redistricting process.
Brenda McWilliams is retired after nearly 40 years in education and counseling. When not traveling she fills her days with community, charitable, and civic work; photography; writing and blogging at Pilgrim Seeker Heretic; reading, babysitting grandchildren, and visiting with friends. She enjoys walking at Rose Rudman or hiking at Tyler State Park. Brenda and her spouse, Lou Anne Smoot, the author of Out: A Courageous Woman’s Journey, have six children and seven grandchildren between them.
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