Author: Matt Briscoe
Photos: Brady Chandler
Corpus Christi—A sizeable crowd of people packed a room at Del Mar College on Monday as the Texas House of Representatives’ redistricting committee convened a public hearing to hear testimony on the state’s 2021 revision of district representation maps.
Members of the community came out and were given their chance to testify before the committee, some of which choosing to use their allotted three minutes of time to implore lawmakers to draw the new districts fairly and free of partisanship.
Various studies have cited Texas as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, according to Politifact. Drawn every 10 years, the Congressional maps rely on U.S. Census population data for accuracy, but the process is the Texas Legislature, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
Previous redistricting cases, like those done in 2011 landed a civil case against the State of Texas charging lawmakers unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts and racially discriminated against voters.
The Corpus Christi area’s growth is likely to boost its representation in the U.S. Congress when the Texas Legislature is slated to adopt newly drawn maps in May 2021, at the conclusion of the 87th legislative session. It remains to be seen whether the GOP will draw the new districts in such a way that the party will be less likely to lose seats.
But democrats aren’t above such trickery either. Democrats gerrymandered districts often back before a Republican majority emerged in the 1990s.
The U.S. Census Bureau will produce its 2020 Census data for Texas between February and March 2021, said State Rep. Phil King (R-Lubbock), who chairs the redistricting committee made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats.
Meetings such as the one held here in Corpus Christi are going on around the state during the coming weeks as King hopes to foster positive conversation about the topic and avoid landing the state back in court.
The strong showing from the Corpus Christi area also represented another positive move at today’s meeting. It’s long been assumed that area residents just didn’t care what happened in Austin and that we in far South Texas were just too far away from the center to hold any interest under the granite dome in Austin. However, that may have changed today as the solid showing may have sent the message to some important lawmakers that Corpus Christi and our region really do care and that we have voices, too—and we are not afraid to use them.