JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The latest census data shows the city’s population has grown by more than 100,000 over the last ten years. Now, Jacksonville City Council members are debating how the districts they represent could change as a result of the 2020 census.
Southeast Jacksonville -- near the St. Johns County border -- and the beaches had the biggest population growth. But that also means in order to keep City Council districts even with the same number of people in them -- around 71,000 people each -- there has to be give and take among the districts.
That’s what some City Council members are doing now. They are studying proposed district maps. Members deciding on boundary lines are debating what will be in their district and what neighborhoods could be cut out.
Thursday afternoon, Council members representing people in Northwest Jacksonville, downtown, the Westside and parts of the Northside met in a special committee.
One area that will change is District 8, which has lost population. To make that district equal in size, it will take residents from neighboring districts.
Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman represents that area and wants to make sure it’s fair.
“I think it will be pretty concise. That is why we are meeting today, to make sure there are no major concerns,” Pittman said. “We can work together and make sure that all the districts reflect the community.”
The plan that was presented Thursday will likely change.
Councilman Aaron Bowman is leading the redistricting committee. News4Jax asked him about racial makeup of each district and if that is going to play into redoing the districts.
“No, not really with the way the census data is showing,” Bowman said. “It would take a complete restart. What we’re really trying to do is have communities try to stay together.”
He said the most important thing for them is to keep what they have right now because, he said, it seems to be working.
The debate will go on. The City Council hopes to have new district maps drawn up and agreed on by the end of the year.
School board districts are also based on council districts. There is a school board election next year, but Bowman says the map changes will not affect that election.