The process of carving the state and counties into various districts for governmental purposes is underway, with officials hoping it is a less protracted process than 10 years ago.
When the 2020 census numbers are released, the debate can begin in earnest over where the lines can be drawn, but the groundwork is already being laid for the decisions that will be made by the various governing bodies.
Henderson County has contracted with Allison Bass & Associates do the preliminary work on where to draw the lines. A look at the Commissioners precinct map shows keeping the populations between the four precincts can take some creativity. For example a section of Precinct 4, shaped roughly like an elephant extends into Precinct 1.
On a county level, the most vigorously debated issue in the past redistricting session involved elimination of Justice of the Peace Precinct 6. In August 2011, Commissioners approved a map that sliced the number of districts from six to five. The office held be Milton Adams was eliminated. Adams continued to serve as JP until his term ended, then won election from Precinct 4.
Redistricting after the 2010 Census also brought another major change that affected Henderson County.
In 2011, faced with the task of fitting Texas House Districts into the state, with each having roughly the same population, proved a daunting task and to do it in a way that pleased both Republicans and Democrats was practically impossible. The process wasn't concluded until there had been much legislative debate and some court cases. The March 2012 primaries the were pushed to May 29 while plans were being made.
When the final decision came, Henderson County found itself split into two districts for the first time, Districts 4 and 10. That's not unusual for Dallas or Harris County, but it's much less common for a rural county.
“This is a direct effect of splitting Henderson County,” Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Hall said at the time. “I am frustrated to no end. This is not a good scenario, but there is no perfect scenario.”
Lance Gooden, now Fifth District U.S. Representative, was serving District 4 at the time. Most residents west of Cedar Creek Lake were shunted into District 10.
As for this year's redistricting, a meeting of the Texas Senate Redistricting Committee is set for Friday to discuss the map for the East Texas region. Senator Robert Nichols' office has alerted constituents to the meeting and given instructions to anyone who would like to participate.
The address can be found where the hearing is posted on the Senate Committee on Redistricting website.