Mayor Rawlings' Dallas redistricting meeting rejected

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 14, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 14 at 8:44 PM

DALLAS - On Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings tried to call a special redistricting meeting later this month.

Redistricting, with its detailed maps and passion among participants, is a complicated endeavor, but maybe not as complicated as simply getting 14 council members to the meeting.

The council is under a October 15 deadline to approve new district lines, as required under the 2010 Census.

Hoping to lead, Rawlings called for the special council meeting on redistricting to be held during the day on Saturday, Sept. 24.

In announcing his intentions, Rawlings said, "We'll do that, we'll do it in a very transparent way, we'll listen to each other, we'll vote and we'll do the right thing."

But few wanted to follow.

Several council members, including Carolyn Davis, said they were busy. Davis said she's had an engagement planned for three months on that date.

Resetting boundaries for the 14 council districts is important, because the people elected to represent them vote on all kinds of city services.

But the process can be racially charged.

The old boundaries supported three Hispanic districts and four African American districts.

But because of population shifts, the boundaries by a citizens' commission recommend five Hispanic districts and three African American.

Council member Dwaine Caraway doesn't like the map.

"It's about the representation and the potential loss of an African American seat," Caraway said.

With incumbent angst apparent, Hispanics said the time is now for them to gain.

John Loza served the redistricting commission of citizens appointed by council members.

"Latinos now comprise 42 percent of our population here in the city," Loza said. "We really should come up with a council map that reflects those changes."

But nothing is changing until the council decides.

With his Saturday meeting rejected, Rawlings hopes to meet sometime with someone from the council.

"I recognize this throws a curveball," Rawlings said, "but if we can get a quorum, have a discussion, listen to people, then we can go on."

Rawlings hopes to get the council together soon. He wants to vote on a redistricting plan Oct. 5.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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