After spending more than three hours discussing proposed modifications to the map the city’s Redistricting Commission submitted for approval, the Dallas City Council ultimately opted to delay voting on the matter for two weeks.
The map approved by the committee on May 9 had its detractors—it didn’t change much from the current map, and some felt that it didn’t do enough to create Hispanic-winnable districts in a city where the second-largest majority of the population is Hispanic, according to the most recent U.S. Census.
Commissioners like LULAC President and former Dallas City Councilman Domingo Garcia felt the map does little to address historic racial divides in the city.
“You’ve packed Black and Brown folks like it’s been done in Dallas since 83,” he said in May, adding that the map “perpetuates the inherent institutional racism that Dallas has had since the beginning of its founding. This map lacks social justice, it lacks fairness, it lacks equality.”
Wednesday marked the first time that council members had the chance to publicly present their proposed modifications to the redistricting map. Many of those proposed changes were at the request of their constituents, who didn’t want to see neighborhoods split up into more than one council district, or see landmarks move from one district to another.
Eight modifications were proposed, but Councilman Jaime Resendez, who represents southeast Dallas, was the only person on the horseshoe to get one passed with the required 12 votes. He requested that his southeastern boundary be extended to include River Ranch and the Texas Horse Park, which is supported by a nearby neighborhood association that would’ve remained in his district.
“The horse park would be a significant asset around which future District 5 leadership and community members could rally to maximize the facility’s potential and benefit to the community,” Resendez said.
Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold, in Oak Cliff, had asked for the Kiest Park neighborhood to move into Council District 4. Councilwoman Paula Blackmon’s modifications included consolidating the area around Lakewood Country Club into District 9. (It’s split between 9 and 14 in the proposed map.)
Preston Hollow and North Dallas Councilwoman Gay Donnell Willis said that community feedback led her to propose retaining the neighborhoods west of Webb Chapel Rd. and north of Walnut Hill into her District 13, and put the entire neighborhood of Midway Hollow into District 13. The latter is divided now between District 6 and District 13. Willis’ proposal also meant that the area off of Marsh Lane past Josey, north of Forest Lane would remain in District 6.
South Dallas Councilman Adam Bazaldua proposed modifications based on outcry from unhappy residents in the Parkdale neighborhood, which would be split into two separate districts.
“That’s unacceptable,” said Parkdale Neighborhood Association Leader Casie Pierce during public comment. “We can’t be in two different City Council districts—it’s unreasonable for anyone.”
Ultimately, Blackmon proposed that the council table the matter until June 22, to give members time to go back to their constituents and explain the potential changes, as well as submit additional modifications.
“We are the body that makes the decision and I think we need to look at it with open eyes,” she said.
Not every council member agreed with that.
“I personally do believe we are done,” said West Dallas Councilman Omar Narvaez. “If a line changes here or there it is not really going to make a difference.”
Downtown, Uptown, and East Dallas Councilman Paul Ridley agreed, saying that the council had plenty of time to review the proposed map and submit modifications.
“Prior to today’s meeting, all council members had a week at least to prepare and submit their modifications,” he said. “I think it’s time we took a vote.”
If the council fails to approve a map by June 29, the map submitted by the Redistricting Commission will automatically go into effect.