Jacksonville City Council approves $100,000 settlement in redistricting lawsuit

Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, shown in multiple video screens, speaks to the Jacksonville City Council in Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 18, 2023. A protracted legal fight over how city council districts were drawn in Jacksonville, Florida, reflects an aspect of redistricting that often remains in the shadows. Political map-drawing for congressional and state legislative seats captures wide attention after new census numbers are released every 10 years. No less fierce are the battles over the way voting lines are drawn in local governments, for city councils, county commissions and even school boards.(AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Gary Mccullough)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The lengthy redistricting battle between the city of Jacksonville and several civil rights groups appears to have come to an end.

The Jacksonville City Council voted 15-3 Tuesday to approve a settlement agreement between the city and civil rights groups that successfully issued a lawsuit against the city concerning the redistricting maps.

Both parties have gone back and forth for almost a year trying to agree on a map that was favorable for all Duval County residents with the civil rights groups stating that the city’s proposed maps entrenched “racial gerrymandering.”

A federal judge rejected a redistricting plan submitted by city council in December and ruled to use the proposed maps by civil rights groups such as the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northside Coalition.

The bill approved states that the city will continue to use the P3 map that was used in the current city election until new districts are drawn following the next census. The city will also have to pay $100,000 in legal fees.

Under the settlement, the plaintiffs can also request the court for a special election in 2024 for school board districts 4 and 6 since those districts are based on combining two city council districts that are next to each other. Those districts include some of the council districts that were redrawn and elections were held in those districts last year for terms running through 2026.

The plaintiffs would have 30 days to file a motion to request a special election, or otherwise directed by the court.

The agreement will now be submitted to the court for final approval.