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Harris County commissioner indicates legal action of new precinct maps could be imminent

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle has made it clear so far that he is no fan of the new precinct maps adopted just before Halloween.
Credit: WFAA

DALLAS — As Harris County residents continue to study the new commissioners court precincts that will first be used in next year’s elections, the two Republican members of the court continue to study possible legal action. And on the latest episode of Inside Texas Politics, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle implied it could be imminent.

“Stay tuned. You’ll know that answer very shortly,” he told Jason Whitely.

What Cagle has made perfectly clear so far is that he is no fan of the new maps adopted just before Halloween.

The Republican says the maps essentially switch his Precinct 4 with Precinct 3, led by Republican Commissioner Tom Ramsey. Cagle says because of that, employees are basically learning a new precinct and he worries some services could suffer.

The new maps, proposed by Democrat Rodney Ellis, give Democrats a competitive edge, which they currently hold 3-2. Ellis says the maps reflect the new makeup of Harris County and keeps similar communities together, while also recognizing the county’s slide to the left over the last decade. 

Because of those population trends, political experts say Cagle could face a tough race next year and would likely be ousted by a Democrat. Cagle agrees, calling it a “Democrat opportunity precinct” in which there will be more people who have voted Democrat historically than Republican. 

The commissioner says he sees the challenge but isn’t necessarily concerned about getting re-elected because he thinks his history of service will translate in the new precinct.

“There is not a R or a D on a pothole and there’s not an R or a D on a clean bathroom at a park. And if I can render good service, then people will vote according to the service that they’re receiving not according to the political affiliation of the individual that is rendering that service,” said Cagle.

Many observers of the process in Harris County have pointed out how strange it is to see Republicans be the party complaining about a power grab by Democrats during a redistricting process. 

After all, Republicans in Austin have been accused of ignoring the minority populations that have fueled the state’s growth over the past decade while redrawing Texas’ state and federal maps.  And that GOP redistricting effort has already led to several lawsuits.

Cagle says comparing the situation in Harris County with the situation in Austin is like comparing apples to lemons. The Republican says at least in Austin, there was debate and negotiation.

“At the end of the day, there was compromise and things were worked out,” said Cagle. “At the end of the day, the nasty sausage-making ended up with a final solution that I think resulted in no great disparities occurring.”

Commissioner Jack Cagle: Commissioner Jack Cagle – Harris County Commissioner PCT 4

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