Waller Co. adopts new precinct map in unanimous decision

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 11/11/21

After discussing the issue and hearing from constituents throughout the county since September, the Waller County Commissioners Court unanimously adopted a new precinct map at its Nov. 3 …

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Waller Co. adopts new precinct map in unanimous decision

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After discussing the issue and hearing from constituents throughout the county since September, the Waller County Commissioners Court unanimously adopted a new precinct map at its Nov. 3 meeting.

“I think that this shows all of our citizens that Waller County is continuing to make progress and making a decision that shows equity and equality for all of its citizens,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Kendric Jones shortly before the vote.

In a review of the criteria commissioners considered during the redistricting process, a consultant with Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado, Acosta, LLP – the firm that helped the county redraw its precincts – said the county worked with several criteria to ensure a fair division of the county’s population. The court set the goals of establishing easily recognized precinct boundaries using geographic landmarks, balancing the population among the four precincts with populations within 10% of one another, compact and contiguous territories for each precinct, limiting the need to remap voting precinct, not gerrymandering the county along racial lines and keeping communities of interest together.

County Judge Trey Duhon said that communities of interest were not simply about similar populations, but also about a shared sense of community whether that be through a common school district, shared community resources, social opportunities such as those offered at community centers and places of worship and similar situations. He added that a proposal that would have placed both Brookshire and Hempstead in one district would not have accomplished this goal because the two communities – while similar on paper – did not have a shared sense of community due to geographic separation and other factors.

Commissioner Justin Beckendorff of Precinct 4, which includes portions of the city of Katy as well as Brookshire and Pattison, echoed Duhon’s thoughts and said the resources for such a widespread precinct that stretched north to south so far would be logistically difficult. Not only would county staff serving such a district have an inefficient geographic area to manage, but residents of the district would have to potentially travel long distances to utilize precinct resources such as the courts and other county offices.

Beckendorff was the only commissioner to voice objection to the plan which was finally adopted. He indicated that he was against the Indian Oaks Estates neighborhood being removed from Precinct 4 and placed into Precinct 1. He said he felt that the fact that the subdivision is zoned to Royal ISD made it a part of a community of interest that would be broken up. However, he also said he could understand why it might not be possible to keep the neighborhood in his precinct.

“I don’t know if that’s even possible, to add 100 people without throwing those (precinct population) numbers off – so it’s just tough,” Beckendorff said.

Duhon said the odd geometric shape of the county combined with the fact that most growth in the county was along its eastern edge made it difficult to draw equally populated precincts. He also predicted that, in time, growth would even out across the county and future maps would be quite different from that adopted this year as the county’s population fluctuates. He said that the map has some things that might not be ideal.

“But, given the constraints and how we have to balance these precincts and keep them within a 10% (population) variance, with all the other factors in consideration, I really think it’s the best that we can do,” Duhon said. 

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