The Dallas City Council was unable to agree on new district boundaries and plans to take one final swipe at a map at a special meeting Monday afternoon.
Council members tried Wednesday for the second time this month to approve a redistricting map, but could not get the 12 votes required to approve a final plan. The council has until Wednesday to approve the new district boundaries or the version recommended in May by the Dallas Redistricting Commission will be adopted by default.
Wednesday was the last scheduled meeting with a voting agenda before the council took a month-long break in July. But the board was not full at the meeting: Board member Jaynie Schultz was absent due to the death of a relative, and Adam McGough missed most of the amendment votes. He said it was because the phone he was using to attend the meeting had practically lost power.
Mayor Eric Johnson, who announced on Tuesday that he had COVID-19, participated remotely.
Since three-quarters of the 15-member city council must approve any new plan, 12 votes were needed. The council voted 8-6 to move the map forward as recommended by the redistricting commission. Before that, they voted 11 to 2 to approve that same card with three changes they could agree on.
A point of contention from dissenting voters, council members Paula Blackmon and Jesse Moreno, was the rejection of a proposed change that would have included restoring the Casa View neighborhood in the East Dallas district that Blackmon represents, putting three parks from Deep Ellum and downtown. return to the Moreno District and restoration of the Parkdale and Lawnview neighborhoods in the Adam Bazaldua District covering the South Dallas area.
The proposal with the three changes was presented by Bazaldua and Moreno.
“I just feel very strongly that if we’re going to keep communities together and say we’re committed to keeping communities together, then we should do that,” Blackmon said after the vote on the changed map failed, adding that she planned to continue voting against any card without the amendments pushed by Bazaldua and Moreno.
During the redistricting process, many residents urged commission and council members not to divide their wards. Although the map recommended by the commission largely retains existing boundaries, several members last month expressed concern that it would not promote greater representation of colored council members.
Council members Jaime Resendez and Chad West were the only ones to vote against Bazaldua and Moreno’s proposal. The Parkdale and Lawnview neighborhoods are proposed to be in the Resendez district of Pleasant Grove, and he said he was concerned that moving them would further diminish the population of his area and affect voter turnout.
“When you have a lower population and lower voter turnout, you get less attention from people running for office and people who are making things happen in our city,” Resendez said.
West said he could not support an amendment if there was declared opposition.
Of 14 proposals submitted this month by council members who wanted to adjust the commission’s recommended map to restore areas in their districts, only three were approved.
An approved amendment would expand the Southeast Resendez District boundaries from Pleasant Grove to Dallas to restore River Ranch and Texas Horse Park.
Another puts all of Kiest Park back into the South Oak Cliff area represented by Councilmember Carolyn King Arnold and expands the district boundaries of Councilmember Casey Thomas’ Red Bird area from Marsalis Avenue west along Ledbetter Drive to RL Thornton Freeway.
The Approved Third Amendment relocates portions of the Midway Hollow neighborhood and neighborhoods south of Forest Lane between Josey Lane and Webb Chapel Road to the Northwest Dallas District represented by Gay Councilmember Donnell Willis. It would also restore another area between Northaven Road and Royal Lane in council member Omar Narvaez’s district of West Dallas.
Sometime after 7 p.m. Wednesday, when it was clear a new map would not be approved, council member Paul Ridley suggested the Monday afternoon special meeting focus on redistricting. Wednesday’s meeting started around 9:30 a.m.
“I think some extra time would allow us to make sure we have the maximum presence here and clearer heads,” he said. “It’s late. We’re tired. We’re hungry.”
“If you’re hungry, go get a snack and come right back. If you want something to drink, I’ll get you some water,” he said. “We look ridiculous to the public right now.”
Resendez was the only vote against Monday’s meeting.