A Texas House Redistricting Committee proposal would saw off a portion of western Henderson County, moving it from the Lance Gooden’s Fourth District to the Tenth.
The change would lessen the county’s clout in the 4th District, which is dominated by the larger voting base in Kaufman County. In the 2010 Primary Election race in which Gooden upset incumbent Betty Brown, there were 9,828 votes cast in Kaufman County to 8,185 in Henderson County.
According to an AP story, State Rep. Burt Solomons, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, revealed details of his plan Wednesday. The plan could pit as many as 14 Republicans against each other by “pairing” incumbents in seven districts.
If the plan is adopted, the freshman, Gooden, would avoid going head-to-head with another incumbent.
Republican Precinct 1 Henderson County Commissioner Joe Hall is opposed to seeing most of his constituents moved to the 10th District.
“Lace Gooden called, and tried to point out the value of it,” Hall said. “I expressed my total dissatisfaction, and told him he’s playing politics with it.”
Hall said he spoke with County Judge Richard Sanders about possibly presenting a resolution at Commissioners Court opposing Solomons’ proposal.
“Beyond that, we may have to saddle our pony, and go to Austin,” Hall said.
Henderson County Democratic Party Chairman Marsha Head was concerned that the area placed in Republican Rep. Jim Pitt’s District encompasses just about all of the county west of Cedar Creek Lake, and also takes an eastward jog in the Caney City area.
“My first reaction is that it will be confusing to voters,” Head said. “We have so many different districts and voting entities for them to consider, and keep up with that, we loose voters who don't have time to research all the various maps. Also, I always hate to make it more complicated for the Elections Office, and the workers who have to deal with so many different ballots. But with shifting population growth, it is necessary to balance out the voters in the various House Districts.”
On a positive note, the proposed map would give the county two voices on one of the most important House committees.
“On the good side, it would put the western part of Henderson County in Rep. Jim Pitts' district. He is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee,” Head said. “We already have Rep. Lance Gooden, who is on the Appropriation Committee, so this would double the voice of Henderson County on the Appropriations Committee, which decides state spending.”
The redistricting map is a work in progress, and changes could still come before any map goes into effect.
Head said she is also anxious to get census numbers on Henderson County precincts, which will also be subject to changes, depending on whether there are significant population shifts.
Henderson County Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez said her office will continue to count all county votes on election night, regardless of the district in which they’re located.
Then the results of two races would be forwarded to state officials. Some local voting boxes might have some voters who reside in the Fourth District, and others who live in the 10th District, but that is already the case in some of the lower-ballot races, Hernandez said.