FORT WORTH -- Despite objections that the redistricting map dilutes Hispanics' voting power, the Fort Worth City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday to approve a final redrawing of the city's political boundaries and forward it to the Justice Department.The United Hispanic Council said it would file a challenge when the map is submitted to the federal government because Hispanics make up more than a third of the population. If the challenge is not successful, the group does not rule out filing a lawsuit, said Fernando Florez, a UHC representative.Councilman Sal Espino, who represents the north-side District 2, was the lone vote against the map. Espino said he believes the map may be vulnerable to the UHC's challenge. Because Texas has a history of racial discrimination, the state can't implement the maps or other changes without federal approval."It's not just voting percentages," he said after the meeting. "You have to look at voting performance."Contested precinctsThe UHC said it would have settled its objections to the map if the city removed several precincts from Councilman Joel Burns' District 9 where whites historically vote in large numbers. Even though Hispanics make up more than 57 percent of the district under the final map, the UHC says white voting in District 9 has effectively kept a Hispanic from winning."Whites vote for whites, Hispanics vote for Hispanics, basically," Florez, a District 9 leader, said after the meeting. Only the 62 percent-Hispanic District 2 gives Hispanics a real shot to win in the city, he said.Because of the imbalance, Florez said, District 9 Hispanics have stopped voting in local elections because they know their votes don't count.The five contested precincts in District 9 include Berkeley, Park Hill, Mistletoe Heights and TCU. The city staff, in one change approved by the council in the final map, split one of the precincts and moved the main part of TCU west of South University Drive, plus part of Colonial Hills, into the west-side District 3 of Mayor Pro Tem W.B. "Zim" Zimmerman.Burns reiterated during the meeting that he was elected in 2007 against Juan Rangel with a coalition of whites and Hispanics, that the District 9 neighborhoods share common interests and that every neighborhood association president in the district wants it to remain intact.Get out the voteZimmerman, who shepherded the redistricting review for the council, said the final map doesn't matter if voters don't go to the polls."If people don't get out and go vote, then it doesn't make any difference," he said.Mayor Betsy Price said during the meeting that she believes the map is fair."Redistricting is never easy," she said. "Every time we've had maps presented [by other groups], we've made some small tweaks. We're never going to make everyone happy."The council kept a late swap between Districts 8 and 6, sending the far south area of Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray's District 8 around Spinks Airport into the Wedgwood-Candleridge district of Councilman Jungus Jordan. A group of neighborhood leaders met last week to protest, arguing the move sent a growing area out of the development-hungry district."As we increase economic development, that flows through the entire city," Jordan said during the meeting. "It does not stay within district lines."Fort Worth redistricting Here's a look at Fort Worth's city council district demographics, and how they'd change under redrawn districts.
|District||Current pop.||Redrawn pop.||Current Anglo %||Redrawn %||Current Hisp. %||Redrawn %||Current Black %||Redrawn Black %|