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Pleasant Grove Residents Want Own Council Seat

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Head to southeast Dallas – and you’ll find an old community with a strong identity. “You’re in Pleasant Grove,” said Sabrina Harris, who was raised here. “Yea, yea, it’s well known.”

Politically, though, Pleasant Grove has no identity at all, making up a small part of four different city council districts.

As the city of Dallas undergoes redistricting, people Saturday morning packed council chambers for one final public forum. Many are fighting to keep their own communities together.

“Pleasant Grove is – was the poster child of gerrymandering,” said local attorney Domingo Garcia, who sits on the redistricting commission. “Because people shop there; they go to church there; and they’re neighbors. And they’ve been split up for too long.” Garcia is pushing for a new map that would give Pleasant Grove a district all its own.

With Hispanics now making up 42 percent of the Dallas population, he says, his map – known as “Plan 16’ would also improve their representation on city council.

“Currently, we have 3 majority Latino Hispanic opportunity districts. This new plan would create 5,” says Garcia.

Bill Betzen, meanwhile, has lead the charge for citizen involvement in the map-making process. His map, “Plan 3” would also increase minority representation. It would make the biggest changes to the current council, but attempts to simplify and centralize districts.

“This map puts everyone within 10 miles – at the most – of their representative. So, it’s really more compact,” he says. “It’ll be easier for people to run for office – because you’ll really be running in your own neighborhood.”

The last option, “Plan 5”, meanwhile, tries to preserve the current district number 5, which stretches across south Oak Cliff.

Supporters argue breaking up the district would weaken that community.

“It destroys political representation, which people have fought for, for over 50 years,” said Fredrick Douglas Lewis.

A redistricting commission will vote Tuesday to select one of the three maps under consideration. Their recommendation will be presented to city council members, who are expected to follow-up with their own vote Wednesday.

To take a look at the proposals of the three maps under consideration and general information on the process, click here.

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