Tensions between Harris County officials continue to grow after Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis introduced a redistricting map that would alter the shapes of the two conservative leading precincts in the county.
The proposed map by Ellis draws a U-shaped Precinct 4 led by Jack Cagle ranging from Katy to Baytown. And Precinct 3 led by Tom Ramsey would condense to just west of the 610 freeway.
In the current map, Democrats hold a 3-2 majority with County Judge Lina Hidalgo as the final vote. If approved, Ellis’s map would keep the majority in the 75 percent democratic Precinct one. And grow Democratic majorities in Precinct 2 and 3.
For context, in the 2018 Harris County elections, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia beat Republican incumbent Jack Morman for the seat by 2,000 votes.
Republican Commissioners Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey said the proposed maps will disrupt residents’ county services and dilute conservative influence even though Democratic officials have won every county wide election since 2014 and President Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 13 points in the 2020 presidential election.
Moreover, Harris County is considered one of the bluest areas in the state compared to other major cities.
In an interview with the Michael Berry show, Ramsey called the redistricting maps corrupt and said some choice words about Ellis.
“Their endgame is to raise your taxes and create chaos and I really think Rodney Ellis is clearly the most corrupt politician I’ve seen in my life,” Ramsey said. “He must have anger issues because he’s taking it out on precinct 3 at this point.”
Ramsey also said that the maps would concentrate most of Harris County’s unincorporated areas into Precinct 4. But Commissioner Ellis said his proposed maps fix an already Republican gerrymandered Harris County map.
“For too long this county has been intentionally divided by precinct boundaries that deny people the opportunity to elect representation that accurately reflects the views of the majority of our communities,” Ellis said in a statement. “The boundaries proposed cease that continued suppression, and allow the voices and views of the people to be reflected by those who represent them.”
Moreover, Ellis said these cries are his colleagues’ plan to retain power and would survive any legal challenge.
“Based on what we learned, and in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, we’re proposing new boundaries for county commissioner districts that are reflected in the map posted here,” Ellis said. “Our plan seeks to keep communities of interest together and brings together areas that have been split apart for years.”
This battle over the county map comes after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state legislature approved congressional maps which lacked Latino voting representation and created a new Republican majority seat in Harris County. Despite the Latinx population increasing and the Anglo population decreasing, according to the 2020 census.
Numerous lawsuits specifically by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and Latino organizations have already been filed against the governor and the state.
The Republican commissioners, Ramsey and Cagle said they are “absolutely” ready to sue the county if Ellis’s map is approved, according to a report by Houston Public Media.
Public hearings on Tuesday and Thursday Oct. 28 could also weigh-in on the finalized county map.
Photo: Trong Nguyen/Getty Images
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.