A very important vote is coming before the Board of County Commissioners and County Representative Brian Hamman is looking for input from the community.
The Board is getting close to voting on new district maps that will guide Lee County elections for the next decade. Every ten years local governments use new census data to redraw district lines to reflect population changes.
The goal of redistricting is to readjust the population between commission districts so that no commission district includes substantially more individual residents than other others.
Lee County has produced a 33-page redistricting report, which you can read HERE. The report, among other things, shows how districts have grown since the 2010 census. For example, District 2, in which Cecil Pendergrass represents, had a population of 123,653 back in 2011. In 2020, that district has grown to 160,138. Population is just one of several factors that have to be considered when redistricting.
Five alternatives have been created by the Lee County staff, all of which have been criticized by the local NAACP. They called the five maps discriminatory and said the process to create the maps has not been transparent. The organization is creating its own map for the county to consider.
Over the past several weeks, Hamman and his staff have worked to create an alternative map that he says is fair and responsive to all. Hamman calls it the “No-Split” Alternative (or Alternative 7). “The rationale behind the creation of this map starts with the goal of keeping cities and communities whole. Every city in Lee County, with the exception of Cape Coral (population 184,000), can fit into a single district without being split up – my map accomplishes that goal. It keeps like-minded citizens together. We also wanted to create districts that are easily recognizable by following city borders and major roadways.”
Hamman says his “No-Split” map also answers two of the biggest concerns that many in the community have shared: Previous commission districts split the Dunbar Community away from the City of Fort Myers and included it in a district with communities North of the Caloosahatchee River. ” The “No-Split” map puts Dunbar back in the same district as the rest of Fort Myers. It creates a District 5 where fifty-five percent of the voting age population is minority. The balance, about forty-five percent, is white; demonstrating we listened to the concerns raised at the first two public hearings.”
Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on the evening of November 2, 2021 at 6pm in the Historic Lee County Courthouse Chambers.
Share your input or comments on the issue with Commissioner Hamman by e-mail at Dist1@leegov.com