JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There was more reaction on Wednesday concerning how Jacksonville’s political landscape could change in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling on the drawing of city council and school board districts.
The city council is under court order to redraw its council and school board district boundaries because a federal judge said the plan approved earlier this year is unconstitutional.
The reason? The council used race to determine the lines, according to a judge. The city is appealing but the groups which sued have proposed their own plan.
🔒 Insider Interactive: See how Jacksonville’s districts would change under City Council’s most recent map
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. These are things that the city council is going to have to consider now.
News4JAX caught up with Thelma Legree and other voters on the Northside and was talking to them about the City Council. City elections are not until spring, but Thelma was aware of the changes being considered in her district.
Legree disagreed that Black representation is all being stuck into one district.
“I think I can adjust. I mean, myself, I can adjust to whatever they do. I am going to vote for whoever I vote for regardless,” Legree said.
Jacksonville voter Lewis King said changing the maps could be a problem.
“If they want to spread it out I think that could be a problem,” he said.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, the NAACP, ACLU and Northside Coalition along with various citizens who filed suit presented their own plan. Instead of packing predominantly Black neighborhoods into four council districts, their map puts some of those neighborhoods into other districts which they said is a far better representation of the city.
“Packing too many Black voters it’s a two few districts it’s unconstitutional. You have already been told that. Spreading Black voters is it too many districts overly diluting Black voting power is also unconstitutional,” said Mike Ludwig with the Northside Coalition.
Starting Nov. 1, a special council committee is going to begin meeting and looking at its own maps. They are having those maps drawn up now by an outside firm while an attorney they hired will try to have the judge’s ruling overturned. If that doesn’t happen, the city only has until November 8th to come up with a plan Councilman Rory Diamond is a co-vicechair of the committee and he says they want to hear from you.
“We have a federal court order that says we’ve got about a month to do this. So we will have multiple hearings, multiple opportunities for the people to come and speak. In addition to that, they can send emails they can come to all the hearings and we will do the best we can with a month that we have,” Diamond said.
The city has set up an email, email@example.com, for public comment. And have already received some replies like one that points out several problems.
“There are several neighborhoods in District 9 that have no reason to be lumped together into a single district except to discount the Black voters in the north of the district,” one email said.
If residents want to get a closer look, they can become News4JAX Insiders and look at an interactive map that shows the difference.