DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When redistricting comes around, it never does so without some controversy.
In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings surprised many Wednesday when he called for an open meeting on the changes to districts so residents can sound off.
“Now it’s up to us,” he said, complimenting the city’s Redistricting Commission that’s met and debated for months. “It’s us that gets to make the decision on how we move forward.”
Deciding where district lines are drawn is a messy business. The proposal that came out of the months-long work sessions from the commission drew critics from the start and continued during Wednesday’s meeting.
“In the recommended map, three districts look like gerrymandering,” said Rich Sheridan, a resident addressing the council.
So Rawlings invited those who want the map amended – council members and the public – to one last discussion on September 24.
“You know, I think we want to be unbelievably transparent here at city hall,” Rawlings said, adding, “So anything we can do so people can see us up close and personal helps that.”
He wants a Saturday meeting so working residents can be there. But he ran into problems right away. Several surprised council members announced they had conflicts with the original date and time.
Now he’s merging their calendars to find a time when most can attend.
“Something on the weekend is ultimately going to be the best thing,” he told CBS 11 News.
Several members say they’ll offer amendments to the plan. Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway is considering one, since he’s currently drawn into the same district as a fellow councilmember.
“This is the beginning of the process,” he said. “The numbers (of voters in a district) will dictate it; we do not draw these lines according to incumbency or where we live.”
As of late Wednesday the mayor’s office is still working out a time. Meantime, council members who want to propose amendments must be submit them by Friday. Rawlings wants a full council vote October 5.