Fort Bend County to get new state representative district
By B.K. Carter
A small subdivision in Sugar Land has fallen victim to redistricting as the state reapportions representatives based on population.
Every 10 years in the year after the decennial census, political subdivisions in the county, state, and national level redistrict supposedly to assure that we get proper representation, tax money is apportions fairly, and population shifts can be studied and planned.
Budget concerns may be grabbing all the big headlines now, but redistricting will affect the political picture for the next 10 years.
This is on-going now and while Houston with its declining population has lost a House of Representative member, a large portion of Fort Bend will gain a state representative district called District 85. It will join District 28 (John Zerwas), District 27 (Ron Reynolds), and District 26 (Charlie Howard).
According to Representative Zerwas, each district will ideally encompass approximately 167,000 people. Of that number, 86,000 Fort Benders will supposedly reside in the new District 85 with the remaining citizens living in Wharton and Jackson counties.
When residents of the small Sugar Land subdivision, Avalon, discovered that it was one of the few subdivisions that has been taken out of Charlie Howard’s District 26 and placed in the new District 85, they started questioning the decisions which led to that.
They discovered that the state representatives in Fort Bend (Howard, Reynolds, and Zerwas), like other representatives, each submit their own map after getting together to divide up the population. The representatives know the voting patterns in their respective districts and naturally want to keep their political majority.
Sugar Land city council member Jacquie Chaumette, a resident of Avalon, was surprised to learn that her residence had been placed in the new district with Wharton, Richmond, and Rosenberg. She took to the street, walking her subdivision to alert her neighbors. Many residents of Avalon and the even smaller Brazos Landing were concerned that they were being grouped with a largely rural area in Wharton and Jackson counties and wrote letters and called their representatives about it.
Chaumette, who had earlier expressed an interest in running against Howard for the House seat, travelled to Austin for the redistricting committee hearing on Sunday and testified before the committee. Although many people wanted to go with her, they were discouraged because rumors were that the meeting would be overcrowded with many south Texas citizens who were unhappy with the redistricting plans also.
According to Chaumette, she was allowed to testify and subsequently questioned by members of the state redistricting committee public hearing. She said one of the main goals of redistricting was to group people with a commonality of interest and she testified that Avalon had no commonality of interest with Wharton and Jackson counties. “The committee seemed to get that,” she said. Chaumette said the committee seemed to be looking at different options. “We don’t understand why Avalon was cut from the rest of the city,” she said.