The Harris County Democratic Party is still open for business and the monthly Brown Bag discussion continued today. State Senator Mario Gallegos provided a great crowd of hard-core Dems an overview of what is to come regarding redistricting.
Prior to the talk, Chairman Gerry Birnberg provided us a “bright spot” from Tuesday. Because Bill White carried Harris County, the 2012 EARLY VOTING polling locations and those E-Day precincts in which White won will be presided over by Democratic election judges, which will ensure some fairness in on-the-spot decision-making when some voter intimidators need to be escorted out.
Gallegos reported that based on Census projections, Texas stands to gain four congressional seats. Based on population patterns, those seats may be in Houston, Dallas, the I-35 Corridor, and the Rio Grande Valley. And because we have a Democratic White House, we may just have a more cooperative, voter-friendly Justice Department who will have to approve whatever is created–or send it back for further review.
Gallegos told the Democrats that a special session may be necessary to finish up redistricting work on Congressional or SBOE districts. State House and Senate districts not completed during the regular session would be drawn up by the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB). Anything passed by either of these bodies must obtain Justice Department preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.
A suit against an adopted plan may be brought at any time, and if a federal court is called in to draw up an acceptable plan, it does not need to obtain preclearance. If drawn by a state district court, then it will require preclearance.
Ultimately, the time is now to make your voices heard. On Saturday, November 20 at the UH Athletic/Alumni Center (10AM), a Joint Committee hearing on Redistricting will be held. Public testimony will be heard, but if you cannot make it, you can submit written testimony, too, but you will need to provide 25 copies for the committee members.
Senator Gallegos also reminded Democrats that there is a run-off for Houston ISD Trustee District 8, reminding them that the the pro-student, pro-teacher, pro-public schools candidate is Juliet Stipeche. In fact, Juliet is the only one with a Democratic voting record and is a current sustaining member of the Harris County Democratic Party.
It was good to see the room filled. It just goes to show that Dems are not giving up. And given Senator Gallegos’ remarks about the Republican agenda, he’s up for the battle, along with his colleagues.