With less than two weeks to go before the redistribution deadline, Manatee County officials voted to replace one of the cards under consideration.
The County Council of Commissioners has held meetings over the past few weeks to draw new district boundaries using the latest census data. Because the population has grown rapidly since 2010, the county’s five districts need to be changed.
These five districts determine which commissioners represent you on council. Two commissioners are elected from across the county, but the other five commissioners are elected by residents who live in their district.
In November, Commissioners agreed to move forward with two maps – one created by their hired redistribution consultant and one drawn by Commissioner Vanessa Baugh. On Thursday morning, the board agreed to replace Baugh’s map with a map drawn by Commissioner George Kruse.
Speaking to fellow Commissioners, Kruse explained the rationale behind his map project, which he developed with redistribution consultant John Guthrie to address several of the council’s previous concerns.
“I think collectively, with the help of the consultant, we achieved everything we wanted to do here, captured the bigger chunks of the consultant’s map while taking the essence of map B for a better map for everyone, ”Kruse said.
What does the new clipping map look like?
The new map places fewer residents in Districts 1 and 5. In previous meetings, Guthrie said the board could take this approach, especially with data from the Department of Construction and Development Services to support the rapid growth and construction of new homes.
Kruse said he made an effort to create neighborhoods with special characteristics. The vast majority of the manatee coastline has been placed in District 3 to create a coastal district. The entire Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District is in District 5. In District 1, most of the county’s farmland has been added to create a rural district.
Commissioners Baugh, Kruse, Kevin Van Ostenbridge and James Satcher voted in favor of replacing Baugh’s old map with Kruse’s proposal. Commissioners Reggie Bellamy, Misty Servia and Carol Whitmore voted against. The map will be displayed in public areas throughout the department and online in the coming days.
Kruse’s map surprised Commissioners who said they would have preferred to see the map drawn and discussed in a public meeting. County administrator Scott Hopes said he suggested Kruse work with Guthrie on a new map after hearing concerns about Baugh’s proposal in recent weeks.
But board members said they felt the last two cards were the ones they would discuss at a final redistribution meeting on December 14. The new card cancels all comments that were sent before Wednesday morning, they said. .
Board members question redistribution of transparency
“What I don’t like is that I had three town hall meetings, and I spoke with a lot of people and told them the changes would happen at a town hall meeting on December 14,” Servia said.
“We’re supposed to put it all first, and in this situation I don’t think we’ve done that,” Bellamy added. “Here we are in the ninth hour, and we are changing. It is so hypocritical and deceptive.
Although the commissioners did not approve the process, most of them agreed that Kruse’s new map was a better alternative to the map Baugh proposed in November.
“It’s better than B so I have no problem replacing it with that,” Van Ostenbridge said.
Baugh also praised Kruse’s efforts to improve the map she shared with the board. Kruse’s new map increases minority representation in District 2, which has been a major concern for community leaders.
District 2 is the only district in Manatee County made up of predominantly black and Hispanic voters. Because of this majority, the district is protected by federal law, preventing commissioners from “diluting” the district by drastically lowering the percentage of minority voters.
Kruse explained that he had done his best to expand the neighborhood while keeping the minority population in mind, adding that it would be impossible for the board to approve a perfect card for everyone.
“The problem with creating a map is that there are too many variables and they don’t all match. Making cards is almost like a Rubik’s cube, ”Kruse said, referring to the portable block puzzle. “You think you’re going to go to the red side, but as soon as you turn something on the red side, you turn around and realize you’ve messed up the blue side.” The only difference is that a Rubik’s cube can be solved and not a card.
When will the redistribution be discussed again?
The commissioners will continue to discuss the proposed maps at a special meeting at the county administrative center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton on Tuesday, December 7.
Other municipal meetings will also take place next week. Serbia is about to host a 4th arrondissement town hall meeting Tuesday, December 7 at Harbor Life Church, 3321 63rd Ave. E., Bradenton. Bellamy will also host a 2nd arrondissement town hall at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton Wednesday December 8 at 6 p.m.
Board members aim to have a final redistribution map approved by December 14. State law requires that a redistribution card be shared with state officials by the end of the year.