JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a fight that could change the political landscape of Jacksonville. Redrawing the boundary lines of city council and school board members.
“We are defending democracy here,” said Dr. Marcella Washington. “And we’re saying to the members of the city council, look at where we are, and look where we need to go.”
The group that took the city to federal court over its district lines is submitting its own plan for redistricting to the city council Tuesday night.
Earlier this month, a federal judge agreed with groups like the ACLU, the NAACP and the Northside Coalition that the maps the city drew were illegal.
The city is appealing that decision but it is also drawing new maps of its own, in case the city loses the appeal.
The groups that launched the legal battle said they don’t want the Black community crammed into four of the city’s council districts. They want the districts to represent the real Jacksonville and that’s what they say their maps will show.
🔒 Insider Interactive: See how Jacksonville’s districts would change under City Council’s most recent map
Instead of four council districts in Northwest Jacksonville that ensure a Black council member will be elected from each one, the NAACP, ACLU, The Northside Coalition and a group of citizens say the old way has to go and a new map needs to be drawn and approved that shows the real racial makeup of the city. The groups along with people like Washington, who was part of the suit, are presenting a new map they want the council to consider. They call it a “Unity Map.”
“The bottom line is we’re going to get more opportunities for Blacks to have representation in other districts and raise those numbers so people will say, if it’s a 3% Black population in this district even 20 to 29%, we may look at the opportunity of electing a Black city council member that way. It is not a guarantee, but I think it’s certainly better than packing as we’re doing right now, where segregation is the answer,” Washington said.
The process is not cheap.
City council is considering setting aside $1 million to pay for an outside attorney hired to fight the lawsuit and also to pay for the process of drawing a new map.
But all of this has to happen quickly because the judge has given them a deadline of Nov. 8, which is just 14 days away.