This is the first post of Changing Florida, a Tributary newsletter keeping you up to date on redistricting, demographics and the fight for political power in the Sunshine State.
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Welcome to a Changing Florida and the battle for political power
The next few months will see elected leaders use Thursday’s Census data to fight for power as they redraw seats that control the levers of power.
By Andrew Pantazi
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its months-delayed count of every person in America.
Jacksonville grew quite a bit. The city added 127,827 people. That’s enough that it actually shows a separate Census’ survey that came out last year was inaccurate when it said Fort Worth had grown larger than Jacksonville.
Jacksonville went from being the nation’s 11th most populous city in 2010 to the 12th, due to Austin overtaking the city a few years ago.
Jacksonville and Duval County both became more diverse, and both are no longer majority white.
Duval also surpassed Pinellas, becoming Florida’s sixth-most populous county.
Meanwhile, our wealthy neighbors to the south in St. Johns County saw a population boom with 44 percent growth in the last decade. And Osceola County, home to Walt Disney World, saw 45 percent growth.
In fact, pretty much all of the area around Orlando grew at incredible rates, and they’re likely going to benefit from it with an extra congressional representative next year.
Every 10 years, after the results are announced, elected leaders begin the process of redrawing lines for elected offices, everything from city councils, county commissions and school boards to the Florida Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives.
In Jacksonville, it’s possible to draw a City Council where 11 out of 14 seats vote for Democrats exclusively. It’s also possible to draw a City Council where 12 out of 14 seats vote for Republicans. You can change who gets elected without ever having to change how someone votes.
For the last year, The Tributary has been preparing for how to cover redistricting, and we’re happy to announce Changing Florida, our newsletter specifically focused on democracy, redistricting and demographics in Jacksonville and Florida as a whole.
We plan to use that newsletter more frequently to break news, help you stay on top of public redistricting hearings and read more in-depth analysis about proposed plans.
Subscribe for the newsletter by clicking here. If you want to see more of this work, please donate so we can build out our team with dedicated reporters focused on redistricting.
We’ll have more stories soon diving deeper into the data.
On the calendar
The Jacksonville City Council Special Committee on Redistricting meets next Wednesday at 9 a.m. at City Hall.
This is the first time the committee is meeting under its new leadership. Councilmen Aaron Bowman and Danny Becton are the chair and vice-chair respectively.
Quick hits from the Census
What you need to know about Florida’s congressional seats
Next year, Florida will have one more congressional district, and the new ideal population for congressional seats — taking the population of Florida and dividing it by 28 seats — is 769,221.
It’s clear looking at the map that the most logical place to draw the new district is in Central Florida, where every seat near the Orlando area has too many people and the geographic size of those seats will need to shrink.
In Jacksonville, the Fifth Congressional District, currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, has 20,000 too few people, while Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford’s seat, the Fourth Congressional District, has 103,000 too many people.
Next week, we’ll dive deeper into how these population changes will affect Florida’s seats. So far, neither the Florida Senate nor the Florida House has scheduled any redistricting commission meetings.
Duval vs. all y’all
Thursday’s Census results came with some good news for Duval.
It grew faster than other parts of the state, which means it shouldn’t lose political representation in the state Legislature or in Congress. It also notched the symbolic victory of finally surpassing Pinellas County’s population. Pinellas, the state’s densest county, has seen sluggish growth the past decade.
Jacksonville’s housing stock is not keeping up with its growing population
The city added one home for every 2.8 person who moved to Jacksonville, a slower rate than almost every major city, including New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle, cities that have been failing to build enough new housing to ensure everyone has a home.
Fortunately, Jacksonville already had a larger housing stock than most other major cities, so it isn’t experiencing the same crises as more expensive cities. But the Census data indicates the city shouldn’t become complacent.
The diversifying big cities
Among the nation’s most populous cities, some like Denver are becoming whiter, while others are staying about the same. Jacksonville and a few others are rapidly diversifying as their population grows mostly from more Hispanic and Asian residents.
While Jacksonville is becoming more diverse, that doesn’t mean segregation is going away.
The Census data showed that the city is still starkly divided on racial lines, with neighborhoods that are 0.1 percent of the population who are Black and other neighborhoods that are 93 percent Black.