Lawsuit filed to stop Harris Co. redistricting plan

August 5, 2011 8:12:09 PM PDT
The new redistricting lines for Houston aren't even set yet and already there's a lawsuit.

Two of the people who filed the lawsuit are Houston City Council members, and at least one of the other plaintiffs told us she's worried the new plan will hurt her neighborhood.

For Sandra Puente, it's about opportunity. She lives in Precinct 2 on the north side and believes redistricting will jeopardize Hispanic voting strength and Hispanic representation on the Harris County Commissioners Court.

"We're not trying to say that we demand a seat, a Hispanic seat on commissioners court, that's not it at all; what we seek is fairness," Puente said.

In this lawsuit filed on Friday in district court, Puente and six other plaintiffs are suing Harris County and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, claiming the county's attempt at redistricting will, for Hispanic voters, dilute the vote countywide. It also accuses the county of minimizing the opportunity for Latino voters to participate in the political process.

The proposed map, according to the plaintiffs, would expand Precinct 2 to include Kingwood and Atascocita.

"It is those two communities that actually diminish the voting strength of the Latino community in precinct 2 and in essence takes away the ability of a Latino to elect a representative of their choice," said Carlos Doroteo, who's against redistricting.

We spoke with some of the plaintiffs who believe changing the boundaries of Precinct 2 would be harmful.

"This eliminates the Hispanic voice, and that's my concern," plaintiff Thomas Berg said.

Harris County officials offered no comment on lawsuit, but say the lawsuit is premature because boundaries have not been formalized. The map is being worked on this weekend and will be presented Monday informally to commissioners then formally at commissioners court on Tuesday.


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