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Redistricting questions for you

Saturday, April 13, 2019

GUEST COLUMN

Do “you” believe that currently elected members of the Texas Legislature should continue to draw the boundaries of their districts that make it as easy as possible for the incumbent to be elected or re-elected?

Do “you” believe that the party that happens to be in the majority at the time the census is taken should be allowed to draw lines that favor overwhelmingly their party candidates in the general elections for the next 10 years? Does it make any difference to you which party wins in 2020?

Do “you” believe that the electoral process for Texas would deliver better results if both parties would put their best candidates forward in primaries to “compete” for support in November in competitive districts?

Do “you” really believe, when the only way you can defeat an incumbent is in a primary, you get better leaders? Or that President Dwight David Eisenhower was correct when he stated “extremes to the right or left of any political issue are always wrong”?

Do “you” believe we should “at least try” a new system already proven effective in other states? A non-partisan commission appointed by the Texas Legislature to use MATHEMATICS in adhering to six criteria in descending order of importance:

1. Compliance with the United States Constitution and Voting Rights Act. 2. That all districts are roughly equal in size. 3. That they appear compact and contiguous.

4. That they respect communities of interest. 5. That they incorporate visible geographic features; city, town, and county boundaries and undivided census tracts. 6. And that they are electorally competitive as long as aforementioned criteria are satisfied.

The commission shall be prevented from considering incumbency or candidacy. The places of residence of incumbents and candidates shall not be identified or considered. The work of the commission shall be presented to the Legislature for its official approval. Any changes must be by recorded vote after open discussion.

Several bills are pending in the House Committee on Redistricting. The last hearing by the committee was April 4.

There’s a long list of supporters, most significant a non-partisan group called “Fair Maps for Texas,” advocating many of the above suggestions.

Short list of opponents to ALL bills for change. Most significant on that list the Republican Party of Texas. Curious absence of support or opposition so far, the Democratic Party of Texas?

It is now time for you to express to Representative Mike Lang and Senator Brian Birdwell your opinion and hear theirs. The Supreme Court has held many times, correctly, that gerrymandering is a political and not a legal question.

The final paper for my class at Tarleton State University has been assigned and due May 6. They are to call their representative and senator and listen to their opinions on how and why they will vote, or if they will vote on gerrymandering in this session of the Texas Legislature.

Their grade will be determined by the thoroughness of their research and investigation of the issue, that led them to forming their personal conclusion on how they would vote if they were in the Legislature.

At least 49 representatives and senators in Texas will be contacted.

If you are satisfied with the current system so be it. We will agree to disagree. As for me, I am making my calls, and am listening to, and reading the rational for Rep. Lang and Sen. Birdwell on how they will vote. And a few others.

My paper is due May 6. I will post my paper in the Hood County News.

Retired U.S. Congressman Charlie Stenholm and his wife Cindy live in Granbury.

 

 

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