Dallas City Council redistricting debate breaks down on racial lines

Print
Email
|

by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on October 5, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 5 at 7:36 PM

DALLAS - The Dallas City Council's progress on agreeing to a new redistricting map for the city ground to a halt late Wednesday after a day of rising racial tension, and accusations that Mayor Mike Rawlings has not been inclusive and transparent in late negotiations.
 
Rawlings, who hoped for a council vote Wednesday, denied he's kept anything from view and the council is working into the evening.
 
With Hispanics, the largest ethnic group in Dallas, now with 42 percent of the population and 37 percent of the voting-age population, Hispanic city council members demanded more representation.
 
They want five Hispanic opportunity districts out of 14, as recommended by a citizens redistricting commission.
 
Council member Delia Jasso supports that map.

"This is the right map, it's the map that came to us from the commissioners, from the redistricting commission," Jasso said.
 
The commission map calls for three African American districts.
 
Although African American population slipped in the census, black council members argued to maintain their four seats and give Hispanics four.
 
Council member Carolyn Davis was defiant.

"So I will not be regressing when we've already lost a seat," Davis said.
 
With the council in stalemate and racial tensions simmering, Mayor Mike Rawlings called a recess to broker a deal between members Tennell Atkins and Jasso.
 
But when council resumed, Rawlings' new map showed four Hispanic majority districts, three African American majority districts and one where blacks would be a plurality. Any hope for agreement blew up.
 
The new map carved up north Oak Cliff and its council member, Scott Griggs, was livid at Rawlings.

"I asked to be at the table, Mayor, and I was declined, and for that reason I will not support that [map,]" Griggs said. "That was the wrong decision and it abandoned democracy and it abandoned representative democracy and it abandoned transparency."
 
Rawlings responded, "I did not let you come to the meeting, I did not know you wanted to talk to me. I did not hear that, so I apologize if I didn't hear that. It's a conscious decision, because I wanted to do the discussion here publicly."
 
At some point the council will need to make a decision.
 
A redistricting map for council districts is due before the Department of Justice for review on Oct. 15.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|