Local

Harris County precinct lines to be redrawn

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Your voice in Harris County could be changing. The Harris County Commissioners Court is redrawing its precinct map.

The commissioners say they have to adjust to a growing population. They met on Tuesday to discuss new boundaries for the county's four precincts.

Compared to some of the more controversial redistricting plans at the state, congressional and even the city of Houston levels, this is not as dramatic, although the changes are still major.

[ SEE THE PROPOSED PRECINCT MAP ]

It's just a starting point but it's already surprising a lot of people.

"You've shocked me coming here. You've caught me off guard," Harris County resident Shirley Reed said.

Reed has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, so while she's seen the neighborhood change in many ways, she didn't expect her county commissioner to change.

"I am stunned that Franco Lee would be moving from us at this point in time, but I'll learn more about it within the next 24 hour, trust me," she said.

In the new redistricting map released on Tuesday, Reed's neighborhood would shift from Precinct 1, represented by Al Franco Lee, to Precinct 2, which is represented by Jack Morman. Lee says at first glance, he doesn't mind the alterations.

"The plan is a solid, well thought-out balanced plan that protects communities of interest," Lee said.

Our political consultant says more than 400,000 Harris County residents will shift districts under the new map. Dr. Richard Murray says that's unavoidable simply because of how our population is growing.

"There was an uneven pattern of growth in the county over the last 10 years. East Harris County didn't grow nearly as much as the north and west," Dr. Murray said.

So lines are being redrawn so each district will have roughly the same number of people. There will be four public hearings before the map is finalized.

Residents say it's not about who's representing them but more about how well they do the job.

"You got to have somebody who's going to represent the district, no doubt, and he has to be good. He's gotta be able to represent and do what we want because that's important," said.

The new map would move some of the lines, especially on the north side, around Atascocita and near Bush Intercontinental Airport. In the new map that's currently being presented, each precinct will have approximately 1 million residents, but there could be a lot of changes before residents get to vote on the finalized plan.

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