A newly reconfigured map of Harris County Pct. 4 could extend from Cinco Ranch near Katy, circling northern Harris County and extending on the east side of Harris County all the way to Baytown.
Lake Houston is included in Pct. 4.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle had a strong, negative opinion about that map, proposed by fellow commissioner for Pct. 1, Rodney Ellis.
“I’m looking at your Four-Way Test,” Cagle said to the Rotarians of Lake Houston, who were holding their weekly Wednesday meeting Oct. 20 at the Lake Houston Family YMCA. “That map doesn’t meet your test.”
Reading from the Rotarian banner displayed at each meeting, Cagle said, “Is it the truth? No, it is not. Is it fair to all concerned? No, we won’t be able to provide the kind of service our community is used to with such an increase in area without additional funds. And is it fair to those residents who were forced out of their precinct and into Pct. 2? Of course not.”
Cagle continued, “Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Frankly, at this point, I am lacking some goodwill right now. And the final test, will it be beneficial to all concerned? Absolutely not.”
Cagle then hinted that, if adopted, the Ellis map may lead to litigation.
It is redistricting season in Harris County, Texas and throughout the country. Precincts 3 and 4 have both grown faster than the other precincts, with Cagle’s precinct 42,000 residents “ … above the ideal population,” he said, but the increase is within the 10 percent margin required to redistrict. Pct. 2, however, falls above the 10 percent threshold “ … so the court could simply shift a few people over.”
Ellis’ map, however, has created a Pct. 4 that, in Cagle’s words, “ … looks like a crooked table…,” taking 450,000 people from Pct. 3 and 200,000 people from Pct. 2 and shifting them into Pct. 4.
“This map wedges as many residents of unincorporated Harris County as possible into Pct. 4,” Cagle said, “spreading many current Precinct 4 residents out into the other three precincts, weakening their voting strength and representation.”
Under the proposed map, Lake Houston would remain in Pct. 4.
Cagle pointed out that there are other redistricting maps that could be included or adapted including one that would put Tomball into Pct. 1.
Rotarian Jess Fields Jr. asked what the proposed map would do to the court’s political leanings.
Cagle candidly admitted that Pct. 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey could not win election under the proposed Ellis plan, placing the court in a 4-1 position with Cagle being the only Republican.
“It may mean higher property taxes with the new 4-1 supermajority,” Cagle said. “Some residents will be redistricted into a different precinct.”
Most of unincorporated Harris County would be in Pct. 4 under the Ellis map and, with only one-fourth of the total funding, Cagle said he would have to make difficult choices about which services to provide.
Rotarian Pam McNair asked how Rotarians could help to keep the map from being adopted.
Cagle asked Rotarians to contact the commissioners and the county judge, “ … she represents the entire county and that includes you. You have a voice. It matters.”
Cagle did admit, however, “Those in the majority get to decide how the lines are drawn.”
On a lighter note, Cagle discussed his high regard for Rotary.
“In high school, I won the local Rotary speech contest, then district and then the state contest,” Cagle recalled.
“Then I went to nationals and won a Rotary scholarship, so Rotary is partially responsible for who I am and where I am today.”
The Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area meets Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m., at the Lake Houston YMCA.
The Summer Creek Satellite Club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays at the second floor board room of Generation Park at 8:30 a.m.
To learn more about the advantages of being a Rotarian, lharotary.com.