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Commissioners discuss redistricting commission

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Hays County Commissioners Court discussed and passed a motion during its July 13 meeting to adopt the Redistricting Advisory Commission (RAC), along with the appointment of its members and charter. 

The charter read, “The RAC shall endeavor to provide advisory input regarding the adjustment of Hays County precinct boundaries, including commissioners in precincts, justice of the peace precincts and constable precincts.” 

Each of the five members of the Hays County Commissioners Court recommended one member for the RAC. There will be a total of seven RAC members who will be appointed with the voted approval of the Commissioners Court and the Hays County chairs for the Democratic and Republican parties. 

“The RAC shall receive information from Hays County staff regarding the 2020 Census data including population and demographics within Hays County along with other information that is relevant to redistricting within Hays County,” according to the charter. 

While RAC work sessions may be closed to the public, there is a minimum requirement of four community meetings with at least one meeting being within each of the four commissioners' precincts to provide information and receive input from the public. 

“Those workshops, work sessions that they will be doing internally through some of the information from census etcetera, it’ll be up to the body that we just created to open to the public,” said Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra. “I encourage that every meeting be open to the public. But that will be up to them to decide.” 

During the meeting, Commissioner Precinct 2 Mark Jones switched his appointee from John Ambrose to Dr. Michelle Lopez.  

Commissioner Precinct 3 Lon Shell chose Ken Strange of Wimberley as his appointee. 

Commissioner Precinct 1  Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe previously selected Ruben Garza as her appointee. Becerra previously picked Shannon FitzPatrick to serve on the commission.

Commissioner Precinct 4 Walt Smith addressed the issue of numbers during the meeting, emphasizing that the public process of getting numbers from the census bureau and getting good information from the RAC will be a long process. 

“This is a process that will be longer.,”  Smith said. “We anticipate and I would anticipate that we may not actually, while we’re saying we’re going to get it and while we’re hoping we’re going to get it the first of October, the census bureau has already missed three deadlines to provide that information to us and so I don’t doubt that, that comes later as well.” 

Throughout the meeting, the idea of community involvement with the RAC was encouraged.

“That is the spirit, the hope to get more community engagement,” Becerra said. “So, making the minimum of four meetings is exactly right, but it is not the ceiling, it is the floor.” 

San Marcos Record

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