Sal Espino hopes Fort Worth’s Council District 7 is drawn better this time.
“I mean look at it,” the real estate lawyer and former District 2 council member said. “It basically starts in the west side of town in ZIP code 76107, then it does a little twirl, goes around Lake Worth, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake Saginaw and then it goes up to Alliance and the Speedway. It’s not a very pretty council district map.”
Census data released in August show District 7 also has between 43,000 and 58,000 more residents than other council districts.
Espino is one of 11 Fort Worthians the City Council appointed to a redistricting task force last week. It will begin evaluating the public’s proposed council district maps this week and select one to bring back to the City Council for consideration by Jan. 4.
Other task force members are:
- Bill Schur, a retired lawyer from the Crestwood neighborhood;
- Graham Norris, a trial lawyer with the Justin Sparks Law Firm;
- Janna Herrera, a business person and Heritage neighborhood leader;
- Bert Williams, a former City Council member;
- Linda Kennedy, a former teacher and community volunteer;
- Tony DeVito, a real estate agent and investor as well as president of the Villages of Woodland Springs Homeowners Association;
- Lucretia Powell, vice president of her Echo Heights Neighborhood Association and children/student advocate;
- Kent Bradshaw, director of CFO Services for TruSpan Financial;
- Ossana Hermosillo, business development director for Evolving Texas, a local civil engineering firm;
- And Whitnee Boyd, coordinator of special projects for TCU.
The City Council appointed Herrera, Powell, Hermosillo and Boyd last week to replace Lorraine Miller, Craig Allen, Tracy Scott and Teresa Ayala. They were unavailable to continue their service on the redistricting task force, which last met earlier this year to recommend to the City Council what it should prioritize when redrawing the districts to account for the growth documented in the most recent census. The top priorities are the districts be roughly the same size, comply with the law, reflect the city’s growing diversity, keep communities of interest together and be contiguous territory.
Espino, who is co-chairing this iteration of the task force, was one of the people who successfully campaigned for the charter to be amended in 2016 to increase the number of council districts from eight to 10. He’s long been a proponent of independent redistricting, but thinks reactivating this task force is a good compromise.
“I think whatever map is recommended by the redistricting task force will carry a lot of weight,” Espino said.
Upcoming meetings and trainings:
- City council and redistricting task force joint work session, 11 a.m. Nov. 2, Fort Worth Convention Center, Room 200, 1201 Houston St.
- Basic redistricting software training, 6-8 p.m. Nov. 3, Como Community Center, 4660 Horne St.
- Basic redistricting software training, 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 6, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 5565 Truman Drive.
- Advanced redistricting software training and collaboration session, 6-8 p.m. Nov. 8, Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods, 818 Missouri Ave.
The city is holding at least three more training sessions on the redistricting software. The public has until Nov. 12 to submit a map.
The City Council is already working on its own map to submit to the redistricting task force to review. District 4 Councilman Cary Moon and District 6 Councilman Jared Williams have each drawn one.
Moon thinks council district boundaries should align as much as possible with school district boundaries.
He said in an interview with the Fort Worth Report on Monday that the maps he’s drawn make it so that each council member has between one or two school districts in their council district. This will ensure council members have enough time to devote to the school districts whether that be ensuring the routes students walk to school are safe or participating in after school reading programs.
“We just work with the ISDs on a regular basis, and as a city, we need to prioritize education because we have some failing school districts. I just want the council to be more involved with those,” said Moon, who currently has four of the city’s 14 school districts in his district.
Williams could not be reached for comment Monday, but his and Moon’s map differ in how Districts 2 and 4 are drawn.
As of Sept. 8, 57 people had completed the city’s redistricting software training and 127 people had created accounts to use the software.
“There are some residents who have attempted to produce compliant maps and have become frustrated in the process and given up. How many are going to take it all the way to completion and submit a compliant map? I don’t know. I think it’s reasonable to expect dozens,” Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to correct when the redistricting task force last met. Sal Espino and Whitnee Boyd are members of the Fort Worth Report reader advisory council. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Jessica Priest is an investigative journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.