Dallas Approves Map Keeping Most Council District Lines Intact

Dallas council members on Monday unanimously approved an updated map of the city’s district boundaries that will last for a decade.

They only had three days left to do so.

The council had until Wednesday to approve the new district boundaries, otherwise the version recommended by the redistricting commission would have been adopted by default. The redistricting commission map and the version adopted by the council mostly keep the districts close to the existing boundary lines.

Without discussion, but after an apparent objection from council member Jaime Resendez, council voted to adopt the map and voted beforehand to approve four amendments made to a version recommended in May by the city’s redistricting commission. The Pleasant Grove area representative tried to intervene several times to question the process, but was not allowed to speak after a majority of council agreed to vote on the item without discussion.

Resendez was heard saying “[expletive] coward” during the roll call for the final vote, which was 14-0. Mayor Eric Johnson was absent from the vote.

The changes were largely aimed at restoring wards and areas to council districts they had been in for at least 10 years. The board approved three of those changes this month, but couldn’t get the 12 votes required to pass the final map with those changes last Wednesday.

On Monday, the council reaffirmed the trio of changes and gave the go-ahead to a Fourth Amendment that was defeated last week.

Changes included restoring parts of the Casa View neighborhood in the East Dallas district that council member Paula Blackmon represents, returning three Deep Ellum and downtown parks to council member Jesse Moreno’s district. and the restoration of the Parkdale and Lawnview neighborhoods to council member Adam. The Bazaldua District covering the South Dallas area.

The Parkdale and Lawnview neighborhoods have been proposed to be part of the Resendez District, and he voted against the proposal last week. He said last Wednesday he feared their move would further diminish the population of his area and affect voter turnout.

Most residents who have spoken publicly to the redistricting commission and council members during the map redrawing process, which has been underway since the fall, have asked that their neighborhoods remain where they were, with many saying that wanted to keep existing community ties intact.

Several members of the redistricting commission who voted against their recommended map said they didn’t think it did enough to increase the number of people of color who can be elected to city council. The map would likely maintain current levels of black and Latino representation on the council without overly affecting majority white districts in the north, they said.

Randall Bryant, a member of the Dallas Redistricting Commission, said Monday that he still opposes the commission’s map that served as the basis for the council’s map because he believes it dilutes the voting power of minority voters. He noted that demographic changes have not occurred in North Dallas in the 30 years since the city adopted 14 districts, even as the white resident population has shifted from majority to second.

“We felt the opportunity to make big, bold and important changes for this city,” he said.

The mayor of Dallas and 14 council positions are currently held by five Latino members; four black members, including the mayor, who is elected citywide; and six white members. The current number of Latino council members is the highest level of Latino representation Dallas has ever had, and people of color hold the majority of seats in the southern half of the city.

Hispanic residents make up 42% of Dallas’ population; white residents, 28%; Black residents, about 23%; Asians, 4%; and Pacific Islanders are among the other racial groups that make up less than 1% each. Residents in 2020 were also allowed to self-identify as mixed race in the U.S. Census.

The new map reflects the results of the 2020 census. In terms of total population by district, Hispanic residents make up the majority in seven of the 14 South, Central, and West Dallas council districts. Black residents are the majority in one district, which covers far south Dallas, with 0.1% more people than Hispanic residents. White residents are the majority in the other six districts in east, central and north Dallas.

When considering the voting-age population, Hispanic and Black residents are each the majority in four districts, and white residents are the majority in the same six districts as the total population demographics.

“I just hope my colleagues will support this and come up with a map that we’ve tried to really unify communities and work with communities,” said Blackmon, who came up with the map proposal that ultimately passed.

Several residents of neighborhoods like Parkdale in Southeast Dallas and Owenwood in Old East Dallas spoke in favor of the new map ahead of the vote because it nullified efforts to place them in other districts. They said the neighbors they spoke to didn’t want a change.

“I know some districts are going to lose people and some are going to gain people and there’s no easy solution to that,” said Grant Gailford, who lives in Parkdale. “But I would ask the many people who have expressed concern about losing people to listen to what people want.”

Pauline Gounden was among several residents of the Hillview Terrace area who said being moved out of their South Dallas district surprised her and her neighbors and wanted us to ask them what they wanted.

“Our neighborhood is in Far East Dallas, and our needs are totally different than people in West Dallas and other parts of District 2,” she said. “What’s the point of putting Hillview Terrace in a neighborhood we have no connection to?”

Among the changes:

  • District 1 will move west to surround much of Cockrell Hill and include parts of the Mountain View College and Kenwood areas.
  • District 2, which currently includes the Dallas Love Field area, Downtown Southside, Deep Ellum and the Cedars, will extend east past the Tenison Park Golf Course along Ferguson Road to Far East Dallas and part of the Casa View area to Route Gus Thomasson. District 9 in the White Rock Lake area currently covers much of Dallas’ Far East.
  • West Dallas District 6 will expand to include Dallas Love Field, and Elm Thicket-Northpark, a historically black neighborhood in District 2, would be split between Districts 2 and 6. Several Elm Thicket-Northpark residents have spoken out in favor of being divided among those districts to maintain their high chances of residents being able to elect residents of color. Both districts have had Latino board members for several years.
  • District 9 will now cover the area from University Crossing north of East Mockingbird Lane to the village.
  • In North Dallas, District 11 will move into parts of Far North Dallas past Arapaho Road currently covered by District 12. And part of District 12 will move south into District 11 to Keller Springs Road near of Prestonwood.
  • District 14 – which includes Downtown, parts of Downtown and Old East Dallas – will lose areas reclaimed by District 9. District 14 will gain more Oak Lawn west of Cedar Springs Road .

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