City Council rolls back redistricting changes

Published on November 3, 2022 at 6:00 pm

The Jacksonville City Council is committing to an all-day meeting Friday to finalize a proposed map of new city council districts to meet a Nov. 8 deadline imposed by a federal judge.

At the third and final meeting of a special redistricting committee Thursday, council members voted to roll back most of the changes made in meetings this week and go forward with one of the original four draft maps that were presented at the first meeting Tuesday.

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The “Maroon” map presented at Tuesday’s meeting would split Ortega from Riverside and Avondale and place the latter neighborhoods into a new district.

The seven-member committee also voted to amend the map before its presentation to the full council to keep San Mateo in District 2 and absorb the San Pablo Reserve into District 3.

The decision to scrap much of the meetings’ progress came as visiting council members who were not on the special committee, as well as some who were, voiced different contentions with the new map options presented Thursday.

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Those concerns included:

  • Incumbents sharing districts or being moved into a district they currently do not represent.
  • Candidates moved into districts when they are already fundraising for office.
  • Historic neighborhoods like Springfield being split into separate districts.

Lawyers for the city told the council the consequences of not finishing maps by the court’s deadline.

“If you submit a map on the 8th, it’s your map,” Mary Margaret Giannini, the city’s assistant general counsel, said. “If you submit a map on the 18th, then it’s up to the judge to do what she wants, so your position to make an argument for the validity of what you’re putting forth is far stronger on the 8th.”

Council President Terrance Freeman advised members to be prepared to spend all day finalizing a map to meet the deadline. The special meeting could continue into the weekend if necessary, he said.

“I love the commitment that I’m hearing from everybody, because I’m packing a lunch, I’m packing dinner, and I’m bringing a sleeping bag,” Freeman said. “There’s nothing saying that when we start at nine o’clock tomorrow morning that we have until 12 a.m.; we have to wave an ordinance or a code so we can be go beyond.”

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