The proposed reworking of the Williamson County redistribution map. (Courtesy of Williamson County)
This iframe shows a map of the redistribution based on the 2020 census and current districts. “>
After a decade of record growth, Williamson County has found itself having to redirect its four ridings following the completion of the 2020 census, a task it completed in November and will take effect on January 1.
“It was a very fast-paced schedule,” said Ward 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long. “It started with the federal government’s delay in releasing census data. It normally happens in March, but didn’t come out until August.”
Long, along with District 3 Commissioner Valerie Covery, was Williamson County Commissioner in 2010, the last time the county underwent a redistribution, and that experience has helped them move the process forward this year, they said. .
Following the delay in finalizing the nationwide census figures, the state of Texas went through its own redistribution process that did not end until October 25.
Then on November 4, the state told its counties they had until November 13 to complete their own process.
After the 2020 census, Williamson County saw its population to 609,017, a jump of 44% from the 2010 total of 422,679. According to Long, most of that growth occurred on the west side of the country. county, leaving constituencies 2 and 3 out of their target population of about 152,000 to evenly divide the four – plus or minus 10%, according to the US Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Thomson.
To get their numbers, the commissioners, with the help of a subcommittee and county staff, reviewed the data and proposed new limits so residents know who their commissioner, justice of the peace and police officer would be. .
“All of our major cities are just too big to be completely contained in one enclosure,” Long said. “We recognized that and knew that it was no longer possible, for example, for all of Georgetown to be under one commissioner.”
Where previously Georgetown was entirely in Ward 3, on January 1, the east side of town will be primarily in Ward 4, with the remainder remaining in Ward 3. Round Rock was mainly divided into Ward 1 and Ward 4, but parts of the city will also be in Ward 3 in the future. Ward 2 will now mainly contain Cedar Park and Leander. Ward 1, along with parts of the city of Austin, will have a slight demographic advantage – albeit within the 10% mandated margin – but is considered slower growing than other areas because it lacks space to develop, according to Long.
“We hope that in four or five years, as these other ridings get bigger, the numbers won’t falter so quickly,” Long said. “We’ve overcrowded Ward 1 and underpopulated the rest, so that in five or six years it’s not quite out of balance.”
While Leander has more than doubled in size between censuses, from 26,521 to 59,202, and Cedar Park has seen a 59% jump from 48,937 to 77,595, Round Rock has seen a slightly smaller increase. by 20%, from 99,887 to 119,468.
After receiving public comments, the final map received minor changes to the proposed map, mainly to clean up some demarcation lines and ensure that some areas are not divided into different school districts in an effort to help students. election officials to streamline ballots.
“There were a few adjustments that needed to be made, a little bit of cleaning up,” Covey said at a special meeting on Nov. 12. “There were some elements for school districts.… There were these [types of] Changes made. “
While the electoral district boundaries are newly drawn and adopted, the county still has to approve the electoral districts in the coming weeks so that political parties can elect party presidents, whose nomination deadline is in January.
“We’re still not 100% done,” Long said. “We still have to design and adopt polling stations.”