LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin has grown, demographics have changed, and populations have shifted. That means the city's political boundaries need to change too. Just like the census, government entities have to redistrict to be in line with federal judicial guidelines.
"Our challenge was not to change the personality or demographics of any wards while making them legally right," said Don Weir, Citizens committee.
Don Weir heads the city-appointed citizens redistricting review committee. His work on redistricting started after the 2010 census revealed changes in Lufkin during the last decade.
"Target population... If you took the total population divided it by six that's how many people we should have in each ward," said Keith Wright, Deputy City Manager.
Ward boundaries will be adjusted to include around 5,800 residents, but that's just the beginning.
"You got to look at other things too. Voting age of people there, the minority population on each race..." said Wright.
The biggest difference between our current ward system and what they could be - are the shapes of the North Eastern wards: 1, 2 and 3. Once they factored in all of the requirements their shapes had the biggest adjustments.
It's all about equal representation. Back in the 70s, council members were elected at large. But a lawsuit taken all the way to the federal courts ended in a settlement creating the ward system.
"All these civil rights things moved forward in the '60s and it ended up affecting a lot of ways things were done in city government," said Wright.
Redistricting protects the voice given to every sector of the community through the wards. Lawmakers believe keeping neighborhoods together is critical to addressing unique issues.
"If you have a traditional neighborhood like Englewood, we wouldn't want to split Englewood. If you have Brook Hollow you wouldn't want to split Brook Hollow," said Wright.
It's also about voting power... Those who live near each other tend to vote together.
"I think all of us are interested in doing what we can within legal boundaries make Lufkin an even greater place to live and work and vote," said Weir.
City officials want residents to get involved in the redistricting process. You can check out the maps of the two options during a public hearing Thursday at city hall at 6:30 p.m.