We often hear about challenges to redistricting and gerrymandering of congressional and state house and senate districts. We never hear about redistricting challenges or lawsuits at the county level. Why is that? Should there be?
Take a look at my county - Tom Green. 2020 Census data shows a population of 120,000 people. According to the 2020 Census, barely more than 50% of the population is Anglo in origin. Around 43% is Hispanic (a number I suspect is too low) and less than 5% are Black. Yet none of the County Commissioners, Justices of the Peace or Constables are Hispanic or other minority. There are a couple of elected Hispanics such as the county clerk and tax-assessor, but the remainder of county government is Anglo. Here is a picture of our current Commissioners Court, the legislative body that is supposed to represent the people of the County as their local government.
If we assume that representation would be representative of the community, you would expect one or two minority commissioners, maybe not always, but on a fairly regular basis. We have had a Hispanic County Commissioner before. The last time I recall was Gary Acevedo from 1994-1998. So shouldn't there have been at least another elected in the last twenty-five years? Why haven't we had at least one to speak for the Majority-Minority community we like to brag about? Could it be the drawing of the precinct lines that maintains an all Anglo Court when only 50% of the population is Anglo?
But no one asks these questions. Well I am asking now.
I expect this is a similar problem in many counties in West Texas. I would be interested to hear if other counties in The 134 have noted the same thing, or have a similar history. Are there indications, or suspicions of racial or ethnic gerrymandering in your County? I want to know.
Please comment or message if you have noted something similar in your county.
Jon Mark Hogg is a San Angelo lawyer, former San Angelo City Council Member, Mayor Pro-Tem and Founder of The 134 PAC.