Asian Community Wants New Houston Council Districts

Mayor Annise Parker and city council members are meeting this morning for a special called meeting on redistricting.

At issue is whether the city has the population to redistrict and add two new single member district seats.

According to the city charter, once Houston’s population reaches 2.1 Million people it must redistrict and add the seats.

The most recent census count reported that Houston has 2.009 Million people.

Mayor Parker says the city will appeal the allocation of the numbers and City Council member Sue Lovell has pointed out that a lot is at stake.

“It’s in the best interest of the city to get an accurate count because federal dollars/federal funding is at stake,” said Lovell.

Meanwhile, The Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative is calling on the city to add two new council districts.

The news release is below. 

ASIAN POPULATION BETTER SERVED BY ADDING NEW COUNCIL DISTRICTS

HOUSTON-  The Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative (TAARI), a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Asian American Justice Center, is an awareness campaign to affirm and advocate for Asian “communities of interest” in select Texas regions, including Harris, Ft. Bend, Dallas, Collin and Travis counties. According to the latest Census data, significant Asian population growth in these areas has given these communities the ability to impact the political process by electing their candidates of choice. 

“TAARI will be working extensively in the greater Houston area, particularly in light of the City of Houston’s discussion on whether to add two new council districts,” said Rogene Gee Calvert, TAARI director.  “Adding the council districts is the right thing to do, especially since we know the true population count for Houston meets the 2.1 million population threshold. This is due to roughly 29,000 people being undercounted by traditional U.S. Census Department estimates, with many of the undercount usually in minority communities,” she added.  

Many feel that the 2.1 million trigger has been reached based on other factors, such as the 2009 estimate from the Census which was 2,257,926 and the fact that the official count of 2,099,459 was made a year ago.  Also, the best time to add the districts is during the redistricting process.

Perhaps the most important reason for adding the two new districts is because it ensures elected representatives better reflect the will of the people.  Mustafa Tameez, of Outreach Strategists is providing technical consultation to TAARI.  He states, “Council districts are usually in the range of 200,000 people.  The additional districts will put the average size at 191,000. Without the two new districts, the average size would be 233,000.” Our founding father, George Washington, argued for a lower rate of people per representative because it better secured “the rights and interests of the people.”

TAARI will focus its efforts on awareness through civic engagement, education and training.  The goal is to demonstrate publically that Asian Americans comprise a “community of interest” and can affect the political process by electing candidates of their choice.  TAARI has also established a community coalition to advocate for inclusion of Asian Americans in the redistricting process and construct redistricting maps depicting Asian American opportunity districts.

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