Sunday, October 9, 2011

A letter to the editor

The redistricting guidelines passed by the Dallas City Council were excellent. They were simply not followed.

The 6 council members who voted against the adopted map may have remembered the often repeated words during redistricting training: "a plan cannot have the effect of diluting racial, ethnic or language minorities."

There are 50% more white-majority districts (6) than Hispanic-majority districts (4) in the new approved city council map. This is in a city where the Hispanic population is 47% larger than the white, non-Hispanic population.

In terms of voting age population, only 34% of the Dallas voting age population is white but the approved map has 43% of districts, 6 districts out of 14, that are majority white. That same approved map has only 29% of districts, or 4 out of the 14, wherein Hispanics are in the majority. The Hispanic voting age population is 37% of the total voting age population of Dallas.

These numbers clearly document the "diluting" that is happening.

While three majority black districts are in the approved map, with one "winnable" black coalition district, the potential for these to survive the decade are minimal if the 8% average drop in black population over the past decade continues. Two of these four districts are already weak. Gerrymandering only adds to that weakness. Stronger districts are needed, and possible! They were achieved in the wPlan03c Rawlings map that produced three much stronger black majority districts.  These three districts were stronger by an average of 6 full percentage points in the black voting age population. 

While the current 4 black council districts on the south side of Dallas have lost over 16,700 in black population over the past decade, the large majority of that population did not move out of Dallas.  Most of them moved to northern city council districts.  That is where the two growing coalition districts are located in the wPlan03c Rawlings map.  One of those coalition districts can be made to have a black majority, and can be expected to become a stronger black district!

Now is the time to lay foundations for compact communities to develop that will carry electoral traditions forward and nurture more citizen involvement. Gerrymandering does not do that!

The wPlan03c Rawlings map, with 40 fewer miles of gerrymandering boundary lines, shows that a 71% minority city council (10 minority seats) is possible through coalition districts. It has a total of 8 strong minority majority districts and two strong coalition districts.
Redistricting can never guarantee election results, only potential. Results only happen when people vote. But when we start without a level playing field, and with gerrymandering that discourages community development, something is wrong.

Without a change from the City Council, the next hope for progress in Dallas now rests with the Justice Department.  The Justice Department must approve this map before it can be used due to a history of similar voting rights violations in Dallas.

The Dallas City Council must reflect Dallas. That is the law.
If the adopted map bothers you, write a letter to the editor, and notify your city council member. Council contact data is at

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