TODAY JACKSONVILLE CITY COUNCIL WILL VOTE ON MAPS THE PUBLIC HASN’T SEEN
By Andrew Pantazi
Jacksonville’s City Council redistricting committee is set to vote on new maps today at 2 p.m. that may further entrench already-gerrymandered maps to favor Republicans if past map proposals are any indicator.
Assuming the maps are approved today, the proposal will go to the Rules Committee, which will need to hold at least three public hearings. Within 15 days of the last hearing, the committee will present the plan to the full City Council.
City Council held much of its redistricting work behind closed doors in individual meetings with Planning Director Bill Killingsworth or in member-to-member public meetings where public comment was barred, as opposed to conducting work at redistricting committee meetings.
At public meetings the committee and individual city council members have held, they have rarely shared copies of the maps they’re discussing, and never in advance of the meeting. So far, the City Council has never posted any shapefiles or block-assignment files to its dedicated redistricting website that would allow the public to more easily follow the process.
City staff has provided shapefiles to the Tributary upon request after meetings, but often those shapefiles have been obsolete by the time they’re given since council members have already suggested new edits.
Today’s meeting is no exception. The maps set to be voted on haven’t been posted publicly in advance of the meeting, but if the maps are similar to the past proposals, then they will further benefit Republicans by packing in Democrats primarily into four of the 14 districts. The Tributary has requested the maps and will share those when it receives them.
For the last decade, Republicans have held nine of the City Council’s 14 neighborhood districts.
According to today’s meeting agenda, the committee will vote on an at-large map for the five at-large council members’ residency requirements. The committee has never seen at-large map proposals in public. Maybe that means individual council members have discussed those maps with Killingsworth, but if so, it was done outside of public view.
The new district maps seem likely to meet the criteria deemed most important by both Democrats and Republicans on City Council:
- make as few changes as possible and
- protect incumbents as much as possible.
The committee also said it wanted compact, contiguous districts, and it said it wanted to represent communities of interest. But those requirements seem to have been flimsy. The committee required no staff analysis of compactness, unlike the Florida Legislature, which will analyze map proposals for compactness.
The City Council’s refusal to allow public comment at most meetings also helped council members avoid criticisms that district shapes might not actually honor neighborhood boundaries.
Instead of engaging the public, City Council members have taken a different approach, deferring to each individual council member as the expert for their neighborhoods.
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On The Calendar
The full City Council redistricting committee meets today from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at City Hall’s council chambers and is expected to vote on new maps.
The Florida House Redistricting Committee meets next Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Florida House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee meets next Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The Florida House State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee meets next Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The Florida Senate Reapportionment Committee and its subcommittees have not set their next meetings.
You can find past meetings on The Florida Channel, which will also live-stream each of the Florida House meetings this week.
Submit your maps
We want to see what you think Jacksonville’s 14 City Council districts should look like.
Here’s how you can get started drawing your own maps.
- Go to DavesRedistricting.org.
- Create an account.
- Go to DavesRedistricting.org/maps.
- Select New Map.
- Choose Florida as your state.
- Select “Other” as your plan type.
- Restrict to Duval.
- Select 14 districts.
- Click apply and it will take you to a new screen where you can begin drawing districts.
When you’re done, send a link to your map to firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can feature your map in a future newsletter.
Our most recent map comes from Nick Seabrook, UNF’s interim chair of its political science department.
My goals for the map were:
Partisan balance/competitiveness – I wanted a map where both Democrats and Republicans would have a decent shot at winning a majority, depending on how the people voted in the competitive districts, and the at-large results, rather than the majority being pre-ordained as it is under the present map. I drew 7 Democratic districts and 7 Republican districts, with 9 of those being somewhat competitive (PVI of +/- 10), and 3 highly competitive (PVI of +/- 3).
Minority representation – I drew the map with the goal of maximizing the number of majority-minority districts, to ensure representation of Jacksonville’s minority communities. I drew 3 majority-Black districts, and 5 minority coalition districts, along with 6 majority-white districts.
Equal population – I tried to minimize the population deviations between districts. The largest district has 71,118 people, and the smallest has 71,107 people, representing an 11-person min-max population deviation.