Clock is ticking: Jacksonville’s redrawing of boundary lines for city council map, school board districts due in less than 3 weeks

The Jacksonville City Council is getting ready to work on plans that could change the political face of the city.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council is getting ready to work on plans that could change the political face of the city.

It’s once again redrawing boundary lines for city council and school board districts.

A federal judge ruled last week that the council’s first attempt was illegal because race was used to determine the boundary lines.

The City of Jacksonville City Council districts map.

The city is appealing that decision, but the council is working on a new map in case it loses that appeal.

Related: Judge’s ruling signaled win for plaintiffs in Jacksonville redistricting suit. But could things backfire? | Judge throws out Jacksonville’s newly-drawn districts in racial gerrymandering suit

The council met Thursday to discuss the matter — but nothing has yet been decided. A new drawing of the district map has not begun. The council has only 19 days left to comply with the judge’s ruling.

Mike Ludwig, a member of the Northside Coalition, weighed in at Thursday’s meeting during public comment.

“The current maps pack the voters into those four districts (Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10) — packs Black voters into those four districts and there needs to be some unpacking so that the Black voice in the community can be unleashed,” Ludwig said.

That’s what a federal judge ruled has to happen and the city council has less than three weeks to do so.

Council President Terrance Freeman, an at-large member, hopes the court of appeals will overrule the judge’s decision from last week — which threw out the council’s latest version, or grant a stay that would give the city more time to draw a new map, but not knowing what is going to happen — council members will begin work on the map soon.

“We have created a process where we’re on a pretty tight schedule, but we are able to do it,” Freeman said. “More importantly for me was to make sure that the people, that their voices were heard.”

Starting Tuesday, Nov. 1, there will be four meetings set, including a town hall meeting on Nov. 3 where the council will have a new map available for citizens to weigh in on.

Key Dates

Special Committee on Redistricting Meetings:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, - 2022 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Special Council Meeting & public hearing:

  • Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 - 9 a.m.

One council member, Matt Carlucci, said the city should not fight the judge’s ruling and plans on making changes to the map that would provide a better representation of Jacksonville.

“We would be doing ourselves, our city, a better favor by more balancing out those maps so that the registration of parties is closer together, then you’ll have more representation by minorities, different ethnicities, and a council that looks more like Jacksonville,” Carlucci said.

Jacksonville has hired an outside attorney — and someone to draw up the maps — and will be discussing those in a series of meetings. The council could vote on it in a special meeting on Friday, Nov 4.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.