San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 5th, 2011
Kyle, Buda protest ‘outrageous’ redistricting plans


The Kyle City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday that urges the Hays County Commissioners Court to avoid lopping off parts of western Kyle into a third commissioner’s precinct.

The resolution, which passed 6-0, asks the court to “formulate a redistricting plan that maintains the city of Kyle into no more than two precincts in order to preserve the city’s unique community of interest and the citizens of Kyle.”

Mayor Lucy Johnson was not at the meeting because she was ill, a colleague said. Her fellow council members were blunt in their assessments of the county redistricting process so far.

“I hate to use the word ‘outrageous’ but that’s what it appears to me to be,” said council member Brad Pickett, who lives in Hometown Kyle and would live in Dripping Springs-centered Precinct 4 under most of
the plans.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Buda, council members on Tuesday offered “moral support” of Kyle’s position during a discussion of the redistricting process. The discussion, which did not require a vote, was led by council member Sandra Tenorio who was the Democratic Party’s representative on the county’s four-person redistricting committee but has become critical of the process.

“It’s absolutely criminal to take the fastest-growing city in the county and divide it three or four ways,” council member Ron Fletcher said.

Redistricting processes usually involve politicians trying to protect their own seats, council members noted. Hays County’s current process is no exception, they added.

“It almost looks like vote harvesting,” said council member Todd Ruge.

All but two of the 10 plans under consideration divide Kyle into three precincts. The one that comes closest to maintaining the city in two precincts, Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe’s preferred Plan N, still would still include the Meadow Woods and Century Acres neighborhoods in Precinct 4.

Even Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones’ map, Plan M, would sacrifice Hometown Kyle and parts of Old Town Kyle to Precinct 4 in order to keep subdivisions west of FM 1626 near Buda — Ruby Ranch, HuntingtonEstates, Hays Country Oaks, Elliot Ranch and Oak Forest, to name a few — in Precinct 2. Jones says he needs the support of these suburban Austin communities “so that I can continue to fight” for state cooperation in widening FM 1626 and building SH 45 Southwest.

More recent efforts, including Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant’s Plan O (and the nearly identical Plan P), would reverse that formula — keeping Hometown Kyle, Meadow Woods and other Kyle neighborhoods in Precinct 2 while drawing Precinct 4 to include the western Buda boxes.

The county’s round of public hearings on redistricting continue Tuesday, Aug. 9 and Tuesday, Aug. 16. Both meetings are at 1:30 p.m. in the third-floor commissioners courtroom at the Hays County
Courthouse, 111 E. San Antonio St., San Marcos.

Wes Ferguson contributed to this report.

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