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Hays County Commissioner’s Court to Consider Redistricting Maps

On Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioner’s Court Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC) will report two final proposals, one each from Democrats and Republicans, for the redistricting of the county commissioners in Hays County.

The RAC was originally proposed by the League of Women Voters of Hays County, brought forward by County Judge Ruben Becerra and agreed to unanimously by the Hays County Commissioners. Along with Judge Becerra, the commissioners have the sole authority to draw the four precinct boundaries for Hays County.

This redistricting process is driven by spectacular population growth in the county. Of U.S. counties with a population of 100,000 or more, Hays County was the fastest growing from 2010-20 with 53% growth, according to U.S. census data.

“Thanks to the League of Women Voters who proposed the Redistricting Advisory Commission (RAC) along with Judge Becerra and the County Commissioners who agreed to follow the recommendation, Hays County residents will benefit from a bi-partisan process of input on new commissioner maps,” said Dr. Mark Trahan, Chair of the Hays County Democratic Party.

The RAC is providing two recommendations for a proposed map for Hays County, a Republican and Democrat proposal.  Final proposals will be submitted this coming Tuesday, Nov. 2, during Commissioner’s Court.  The process included a workshop on Monday, Oct. 18, and four community meetings in each of the four current precincts.

Additionally, the RAC is accepting feedback at the website at https://hayscountytx.com/hays-county-redistricting-advisory-commission-2021-2/.

Hays County Democratic Party (HCDP) believes that its map truly reflects the growth of the county and follows redistricting principles better than the proposed Republican map.

“We engaged in a process of taking public input and community meeting feedback to make adjustments to our proposal.  By collaborating with a diverse group of community members, we feel that our map captures population trends in Hays County,” said Dr. Trahan.

The HCDP maintains its map aligns with the goals set forth by the of League of Women Voters, which has said: “There are rules for drawing precincts and districts such as creating them as compact as possible and making sure all areas are physically adjacent (contiguous.) Aspects of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) still govern the process.  Additionally, the drawing of precincts and districts should respect Communities of Interest (COI) and city, county, and natural boundaries as well.  Also, line drawers should clearly avoid gerrymandering, and cracking and packing.”

The final proposed map from the Democratic Party includes:

–        Two majority minority, Hispanic precincts (in Precinct One and Precinct Two).

–        Boundaries based on clean, rational lines, such as rivers, creeks and major thoroughfares,

–        Existing communities of interest kept together to the greatest possible degree (such as Hispanic communities east of the I-35 corridor, high-growth areas of Buda and Dripping Springs, and Texas State University), and

–        Non-gerrymandered, compact precincts drawn to keep geographical neighbors together.

In addition, the Democrats’ proposed map reduces the Kyle area from three commissioners to two, enabling more coherent representation for this growing area.

The latest U.S. Census figures show a decrease in the Hays County population that identifies as non-Hispanic white. Though that population remains a slight majority, it fell from 58.6% to 52.5% of residents. However, the population identifying as Hispanic grew by about 5 points — from 35.3% in 2010 to 40.1%. Those who identify as Black or African American increased from 3.2 % to 4.6%, while the Asian population grew from 1.1% to 1.7%.

Hispanic growth is primarily focused on the IH-35 corridor from Buda to San Marcos.

Across Texas, the Latino population has almost equaled the non-Hispanic white population. Non-Hispanic whites account for 39.7% of Texans, with Latinos making up 39.3%.

As Renee Cross, senior director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, said: “People of color make up 95% of the growth, particularly among the Latino population, especially in the urban/suburban areas.”

Regarding the proposed Democratic party map, Dr. Trahan said, “Our map proposes two majority minority precincts.  Precinct #1 and Precinct #2 reflect the population growth of Hispanic residents on the IH-35 corridor.  The map maintains Precinct 1 as a Hispanic majority precinct, while also creating this opportunity for representation in Precinct #2.  The Republican map reduces the opportunity for Hispanic leadership in Precinct #1 by reducing Hispanic voters.  It also breaks Kyle into three precincts, which we understand is a great challenge for governance of the city in working with the county. Our map also provides non-gerrymandered, compact precincts that balances population growth with communities of interest.”

Both map proposals recommend that part of Buda be placed in Precinct #4.

“Unfortunately, due to incredible growth in both Kyle and Buda, we could not keep these two population centers together.  Because all four precincts must be roughly equal in population, we had to look for ways to split up the population to balance the map.  Both recommended maps recommend place western Buda and the city center in Precinct #4” said Dr. Trahan.

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