It was interesting to note Judge Barkemeyer’s comments on redistricting in his weekly column titled Redistricting Getting Complex. Where was he 10 years or 20 years ago? It has always been complex or maybe a better adjective would be political.
Anyone that has been around Texas politics for very long knows the rules when it comes to redistricting. The party in power draws the lines. While redistricting is intended to keep a level playing field at the polls, the exact opposite occurs.
It has been awhile since my high school government class, but they did teach us about gerrymandering. Current federal laws sometimes force gerrymandering to balance out districts based on racial make-up. When you add the political influence you get to see real gerrymandering in action.
Judge Barkemeyer made mention in his article of his suggestion to try to straighten out some of the “crossed up/mixed up precinct lines that currently exist in our towns.” I wonder why he would want to pursue something that is a result of federal laws and racial make up of the county and not be pursuing Milam County’s best interest in another crossed up mixed up state redistricting issue that is based purely on politics.
The current redistricting plans have Milam County remaining in a district with Williamson County. I do not see any like issues between one of the fastest growing counties in the state and one of the poorest with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Yet the redistricting plans snake the district from Milam County taking in a chunk of eastern Williamson County taking a narrow strip through the city of Georgetown and then flaring out to include all of Burnet County.
Burnet County is also one of the fastest growing counties in Texas with just over a 32% increase in population since 2000. However, still being somewhat rural it does have something in common with Milam County.
If you round up the latest population figures for Burnet County to 46,000 and Milam County to 26,000 you get a total of 72,000 population. The target size for Texas House Districts is 167,637. Do the math again and you will find there will be 95,637 people making up the new proposed district from Williamson County.
It should be about grouping populations with like issues and concerns. There is still a long way to go before the districts are finalized and approved. If the Judge is so concerned about straightening things out he needs to look towards Austin, or is it just politics to him?