State redistricting public hearings set for Tampa, Largo in late August

John Garcia from the NYC based group Latino Justice PRLDEF spoke last night at an event in Ybor City and said of the various proposed new maps that have been observed at public meetings, none of them are advantageous to creating a purely Latino seat, something that Steve Valdez, client services manager for the commission's redistricting task force, agrees with, as reported by the Tampa Tribune's Elaine Silvestrini.


Steve Valdez, client services manager for the commission's redistricting task force, said none of the current redistricting proposals specifically address the issue of Hispanic representation. He said that could change, depending on public input and direction from commissioners.


One of the leaders in the coalition to have a "Latino seat" on the county commission (District 3 in the county, currently represented by Les Miller, has always been considered the "black seat") is Patrick Manteiga, the editor and publisher of La Gaceta the weekly newspaper based in Ybor City.


In his latest column, Manteiga wrote of the six current map proposals being floated,


These maps and the process is a farce. Hispanics should go ahead and find a lawyer to sue county government over their effort to disenfranchise the Latin vote. This is as bad or worse than what was done to the Blacks in redistricting in southern counties and cities in the 1960s and 1970s.


The growth of Hispanics in Hillsborough County has been tremendous, another incentive for their leaders to ask for a piece of the pie, so to speak, when it comes to representation at the County Center.


There will be a public meeting this Thursday night hosted by the Board of County Commissioners to review the various maps under consideration. A second such meeting will be held on Monday June 20, also at 6 p.m.


Activists concerned about getting Latino representation on the BOCC are also calling on supporters to attend the next county commission meeting, which takes place on Wednesday June 15.


A key purpose that the BOCC has is to make the four separate districts roughly equal in terms of population - that means taking some voters out of District 1 (Sandy Murman's seat) and moving them into Miller's District 3 area.

As per every 10 years, Florida's legislative & congressional districts are scheduled to be revised in the coming year, and with the passage of Amendments 5 & 6, Democrats are hoping that the new law will force the creation of districts to become fairer and less gerrymandered, and with that, the possibility that they may begin getting more of their own kind elected to the state Senate and House.

Beginning in less that two weeks, the Legislature will host more than two dozen joint public hearings around the state, and the complete list of times and dates for those hearings has now been posted.

A hearing will be held at the Hillsborough County Commission chambers on Monday, August 29 from 4 to 8 p.m., followed the next day, August 30, in Largo, where a hearing will take place at the EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College (13805 58th St. N.). That meeting is scheduled to run from 8 to 11 a.m. Then at 6 p.m. that night, a three hour hearing will be held in Sarasota at New College.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough County citizens concerned about the lack of Hispanic representation on the Board of County Commissioners are seizing on the once a decade re-drawing of the four district seats on the Board as a new opportunity, though they're not too satisfied with what they've seen in terms of six new maps that have been drawn up.

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