Houston residents raise concerns over "effective representation" in Texas' redistricting

Houston, Texas – Members of various Houston-area communities called for "fair and effective representation" in terms of redistricting in Texas.

Protesters gathered to rally against the manipulation of district lines outside the US Supreme Court on March 26, 2019.
Protesters gathered to rally against the manipulation of district lines outside the US Supreme Court on March 26, 2019.  © imago/ZUMA Press

In the past, Texas has seemingly worked to minimize community input regarding redistricting by failing to share the dates and times for public hearings regarding the matter, according to a Facebook video posted by Stephanie Swanson of Fair Maps Texas – a nonpartisan organization focused on fixing the redistricting system in Texas.

While Texans themselves don't have a hand in the decision-making aspect of drawing congressional lines, they can use their voice to speak truth to those in power regarding their communities and the problems they face on a daily basis.

In a press conference from Monday morning, Swanson shed light on the matter by sharing a compilation video of pre-recorded testimony from Texans who spoke about their redistricting hopes and fears at various public hearings last week.

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The deputy director of Emgage Texas, Amatullah Contractor, said Texans are "witnessing a crusade against morality" in terms of redistricting and voting rights in the state for people of color, low-income voters, disabled voters, and other underserved communities.

Texans call for fair representation in redistricting

As the Texas legislature resumes for its third special session of the year, Texans are sounding off on the matter.
As the Texas legislature resumes for its third special session of the year, Texans are sounding off on the matter.  © Imago/UPI Photo

Another resident, Judson Robinson III – who serves as the president of the Houston Area Urban League – raised concerns regarding those in his community who are being forced out against their will:

"Preserving the delicacy of these human ecosystems takes conscientious leadership capable of displaying courage and fairness to protect those in need of quality representations."

He continued, "Community preservation must work hand-in-hand with community identification and citizen engagement."

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Rather than seeking congressional wins, Robinson III suggested those in charge of redistricting "listen to the needs of all in the process," and draw lines that force those who think, look, and act differently to live amongst one another, all for the betterment of the community through diversity.

Fort Bend County resident Jennifer Cantu, who also works for Texans Against Gerrymandering, pointed out the need for representatives in both new and old districts to actually live in the districts they represent, a sentiment that was mirrored by Cameron Samuels, who's a student in Fort Bend County.

"Our representatives do not adequately reflect our values." Samuels continued, "If the new districts drawn and passed by the 87th legislature, and do not reflect the increase in population and the changing demographics of our community, we can call it out for what it is: gerrymandering."

Lawmakers are set to redraw the state's political map for Congress, the Texas House and Senate, and the State Board of Education as part of the Texas legislature's third special session of the year, which started on Monday.

Cover photo: imago/ZUMA Press

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