As part of the city’s charter, the city commission must designate new boundaries for each city commission district after the decennial U.S. Census is conducted.
As part of this year’s redistricting, commissioners created a Redistricting Advisory Committee comprised of 10 citizens to recommend the necessary changes.
Commissioners were first presented with the new plan during the last commission meeting on Oct. 10 by the chairman of the committee, Don Schreiner.
During the presentation Schreiner explained that according to the rules commissioners have laid out, the new districts must maintain roughly equal population, compactness and contiguity.
Additionally, the group was instructed to maintain one district with a population of about 60 percent of African Americans.
This rule follows several federal mandates, the most recent stating that any city with a racial or ethic minority that is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district must draw a district for them or the city will risk having its redistricting plan thrown out.
During the evening meeting, citizen Joe Torresin spoke to commissioners about his concern that the minority district was being geared to African-Americans, when a large portion of Sanford’s population is Hispanic.
However, Assistant City Attorney Lonnie Groot informed Torresin that Sanford’s Hispanic population is spread out throughout the city, and by the rules, the minority group must be concentrated geographically.
After a closer look at the proposed district boundaries, commissioners found some issues they also wanted clarified.
For example, to reach the goal of a 60 percent African-American district, district two, currently served by Velma Williams, was changed to include both the Goldsboro and Georgetown areas, along with a stretch on 13th Street to keep the sections contiguous.
Commissioner for district one, Mark McCarty, seemed unhappy about this change as he would lose the voters in the Georgetown area, as well as the historic Hopper Academy.
“It’s important for me that area is taken care of properly,” he said.
Also in the proposed shift, Commissioner Randy Jones would lose the property in and around the Orlando Sanford International Airport, which under the new lines would go to the district one commissioner, currently McCarty.
Other notable changes included the majority of the Hidden Lakes community switching from district four, now under Commissioner Patty Mahany, to district three, as well as the community surrounding Seminole High School switching from district two to district four.
Additionally, as Jones noted, the lines of the district were not as “clean” as they had been in the past.
Committee member Otto Garrett told commissioners that the large switches were necessary to maintain equal voting population in each district, as well as follow the voting blocks determined by the U.S. Census.
Groot also noted that the computer program used by the committee this year to complete the process was much more difficult to manipulate than programs used in past years.
Groot told commissioners the easiest way to make any changes is to sit down with Mike Jones, who is charge of the mapping and Geographic Information System for the city, and work with the program to see what changes would be possible.
Mayor Jeff Triplett instructed City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. to look at possible changes in the areas of S. Sanford Avenue near the Georgetown area, the southwest corner of 25th Street and U.S. 17-92 and Sanford Avenue between 1st and 13th streets.
Most of these changes included merely “cleaning” up the district lines, however once commissioners work with Jones, more changes may be made.
The city commission must complete the redistricting process by spring in order to be prepared for the upcoming elections.
To download or print a copy of the current commission districts click the following link:
To download or print a copy of the proposed commission districts click the following link: