EXAMINE JACKSONVILLE’S RACIALLY GERRYMANDERED CITY COUNCIL DISTRICTS WITH THE TRIBUTARY’S NEW INTERACTIVE


By Andrew Pantazi
The Tributary


The Tributary’s latest interactive allows you to explore how Jacksonville City Council gerrymandered its proposed district lines by race or political party.

This tool, launched today, builds off The Tributary’s previous interactive showing every person in Florida from the 2020 Census.

This time, we went more granular in Duval County so you can see how City Council has sliced neighborhoods to pack Black voters into four Black-majority districts.

SEE MORE: JACKSONVILLE’S REDISTRICTING PLAN RISKS RACIAL GERRYMANDERING CLAIMS, EXPERTS SAY

Using census blocks, the smallest geography available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the map randomly assigns dots for every person living in Duval County and then displays their self-reported race.

On top of that, you can switch from census data to election data, displaying every vote in the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Duval County, courtesy of the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Duval has 199 precincts dividing the county. We randomly generated election dots within the residential and mixed-use zoning areas of each of those precincts.

Note: These dots are randomly assigned within small geographies, but they don’t reflect the actual people inside individual homes.

City Council District 7 needed to add more people in redistricting, but Councilman Reggie Gaffney expressed concerns about adding in too many white people to the 63-percent Black district.

As Gaffney considered which census blocks to add to his district from the neighboring white-majority District 2, he had City Planning Director Bill Killingsworth read off the racial demographics for each block.

The effect can be seen below, with the red dashed line representing the old district boundary:

City Council District 7 needed to add more people. As Councilman Reggie Gaffney decided which census blocks to add to his district from the neighboring white-majority District 2, he had City Planning Director Bill Killingsworth read off the racial demographics for each block. [The Tributary] © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap

As the Tributary previously reported, using race as a “predominant factor” in redistricting violates the U.S. Constitution unless a detailed analysis finds doing so is necessary to protect a racial minority from being disenfranchised.

Even then, it’s illegal to unnecessarily pack voters from a racial minority beyond what is necessary for those voters to elect the candidate of their choice.

Jacksonville is home to a congressional district, a senate district, a house district and a City Council district that allow Black voters to elect the candidates of their choice even though Black voters are a minority in those districts.

Gaffney’s district, after adding in the new census blocks, will now be 62 percent Black.

DistrictWhite %Black %Hispanic %
140.8%38.6%15.9%
259.8%20.7%10.2%
361.1%13.1%12.9%
449.4%19.8%18.9%
555.9%18.9%16.9%
671.0%9.2%10.4%
729.1%62.0%6.4%
823.7%70.3%4.3%
926.3%60.6%9.3%
1025.7%61.3%9.1%
1154.6%17.9%13.0%
1250.0%33.3%10.8%
1377.1%8.4%8.1%
1461.2%21.4%11.0%
Duval County49.4%31.9%11.3%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 94-171

City law requires all districts be “as logical and compact a geographical pattern as it is possible to achieve”, and the “districts must take into consideration other factors, particularly compactness and contiguity, so that the people of the City, and their varied economic, social and ethnic interests and objectives, are adequately represented in the Council.”

Council members said one of their top priorities was to make as few changes as possible to the current maps, but that means they have chosen to continue dividing neighborhoods across districts.

For example, Wesconnett, Murray Hill, Hillcrest, Ortega Farms and Riverside will continue to be split between Districts 9 and 14, with District 9 getting the parts of those neighborhoods with more Black residents while District 14 gets the parts with more white residents.

A decade ago, Florida voters approved Fair Districts Amendments for congressional and legislative districts, prohibiting the Legislature from trying to “favor or disfavor” a political party. But those standards don’t apply to local redistricting, which means the City Council can legally draw partisan gerrymandered maps.

The interactive tool also shows how split the county was in 2020’s presidential election when about 51 percent of Duval County voted for Joe Biden and 47 percent voted for Donald Trump.

About 51 percent of Duval County voted for Joe Biden and 47 percent voted for Donald Trump. [The Tributary] © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap

Over the next month, the Jacksonville City Council rules committee will host four public hearings to collect input on its proposals.

We at The Tributary hope this interactive helps the public better understand how redistricting divides the city and county’s neighborhoods.

We plan to launch more interactives exploring the city’s and state’s redistricting efforts in the next few weeks.

If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to email us at interactives@jaxtrib.org.

This is Changing Florida, a Tributary newsletter keeping you up to date on redistricting, demographics and the fight for political power in the Sunshine State.

To make sure you don’t miss out on an issue, click here to subscribe now and play a part in ensuring fair districts for all of Florida. Click here to read our archives.

We can’t do this work without support from readers like you. Click here to donate to The Tributary.

If you have questions about redistricting or the Census, you can send them to us by clicking here.


On The Calendar

The Tributary hosted our first redistricting town hall last month. You can watch that on Facebook.

The Tributary, in partnership with the League of Women Voters and other local civic organizations, will host a discussion of local redistricting this Thursday at noon via Zoom. You can follow our Facebook page to watch the live stream or register for the Zoom information.

The Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee will host public hearings to gather community input. Those meetings are expected to take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at Ed White High, on Feb. 3 at Atlantic Coast High, on Feb. 10 at First Coast High and on Feb. 17 – Raines High.

The Florida Senate will take up its congressional and legislative redistricting plans for a floor vote on Wednesday.

The Florida House congressional redistricting subcommittee is scheduled to meet Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Florida House legislative redistricting subcommittee is scheduled to meet Friday at 10:30 a.m.

You can find past meetings on The Florida Channel, which will also live-stream the Florida Legislature’s meetings.


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 info@jaxtrib.org, so we can feature your map in a future newsletter.

Andrew Pantazi is the founding editor of The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union where he helped organize the newsroom's union with the NewsGuild-CWA. He and his wife,...