By Elsa Maxey
Rep. Charlie Howard is in favor of a legislative house bill that would reduce the percentage of Asian Americans from 30% to 27% as part of a new redistricting plan, according to the Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative (TAARI). This is not a plan well received by the organization. What’s more, it said Howard claims he has represented “those people” well.
“Rep. Howard’s argument that he has been elected for 16 years by “those people” indicates how insensitive and out of touch he really is to the needs of his Asian American constituency,” said TAARI consultant Mustafa Tameez. The organization maintains that House Bill 150 reduces the overall share of the Asian American population in the core Sugar Land district. It is now split into four different districts in the plan under consideration, according to TAARI’s Director Rogene Gee Calvert.
Testimony in Austin last week included an amendment, which was tabled, in favor of restoring the Asian American population within at least one Fort Bend County district. A news release from TAARI states that Rep. Armando Walle based the amendment on possible retrogression of the Asian American community of interest in this district.
“We appreciate Rep. Walle’s efforts on behalf of the Asian American community in this area,” said Calvert, adding that the four-way split would dilute their concentration, which TAARI says “will weaken this Asian American community to elect a candidate of their choice.”
Asian American advocates representing TAARI, a nonpartisan project of the Asian American Justice Center, have testified against what it calls the fracturing of the Asian American community in Fort Bend, particularly around Sugar Land. The goals of TAARI are to affirm in the public record where Asian Americans comprise communities of interest with shared social and economic characteristics such as income, educational backgrounds, housing patterns, culture and language, and employment and economic patterns.