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City Council redistricting moves forward with two maps and little public input

Redistricting Committee.jpg
Raymon Troncoso
/
City of Jacksonville livestream
Draft maps were presented to City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 1. It was the first time the maps were publicly available ahead of the Nov. 8 deadline set by a federal judge.

A special redistricting committee of the Jacksonville City Council is moving forward with two draft maps ahead of a Nov. 8 deadline set by a federal judge.

The committee met for the first time on Tuesday.

Redistricting experts and the city's legal team presented four maps to the city to replace the previous map that was struck down in court for racial gerrymandering.

The "Unity Map" — submitted to the committee by the plaintiffs in the redistricting lawsuit against the city — received little consideration by council members before they decided to move forward with two of the drafts, "Maroon" and "Lime."

The draft maps, excluding the Unity Map, were not publicly available before the meeting, where they were also presented to council members for the first time.

District 8 Councilwoman Ju'Coby Pittman said she couldn't read the maps as printed out and presented to the committee due to the district colors being different in each draft and the roads and text being too small.

District 14 Councilwoman Randy DeFoor asked why neighborhoods were split in the draft maps.

"There are absolutely neighborhoods that have boundaries," she said. "That certainly is important information we should take into consideration."

The redistricting experts told her they did not have access to an official map displaying all Jacksonville neighborhoods. A map of neighborhoods on the city's website was also taken down ahead of the meeting.

Public commenters, including some plaintiffs in the redistricting case, were critical that the council had seemed to make a decision before they had a chance to speak.

"I've heard repeatedly that we have chosen two maps," Council President Terrance Freeman said. "What we really did was we narrowed our focus to two maps to continue to work from."

Freeman says suggestions for the Unity Map and the "Orange" draft map may be added to the final map the council submits in court.

There are two more committee meetings and a special city council meeting ahead of that Nov. 8 deadline:

  • Wednesday, noon-1:30 p.m., City Hall Council Chamber — Redistricting Committee meeting.
  • Thursday, noon-1:30 p.m., City Hall Council Chamber — Redistricting Committee meeting.
  • Thursday, evening (time/location TBA) — Redistricting town hall meeting.
  • Friday, 9 a.m., City Hall Council Chamber — City Council meeting for final vote on map.
Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or Rtroncoso@wjct.org and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.