For the first time in Broward County history, Hispanics will have a shot at electing one, maybe even two, of their own to the Broward County Commission — but not immediately.
Hispanics account for the largest share of the population in two of the nine newly apportioned county districts, according to a new county district map approved this week. Each of the districts elect a representative to the Broward County Commission. It’s the first time county districts have been drawn that way, said Michael Garcia, chairman of the political committee Hispanic Vote of Broward County.
“Last time, 10 years ago, we tried to do that and they didn’t, so we sued,” he said. “The suit didn’t go anywhere, but I think that kind of let people know, ‘Hey, this needs to be more, a lot more fair for everyone.’”
The 2020 U.S. Census shows Broward County grew by 11%, or about 200,000 people, with the fastest-growing district in its northwest corner, bordering the Everglades and Palm Beach County. The decennial survey also found Broward County is starting to more closely resemble its neighbor to the south, with its Hispanic population growing by the largest share among racial and ethnic groups.
U.S. Census data shows Broward County residents are almost evenly split among three racial and ethnic groups: 34% White, 31.3% Hispanic and 30% Black residents.
Only one person of Hispanic descent has ever served on the Broward County Commission, according to Commission discussion Tuesday.
As required by an amendment voters approved in 2018, Broward County hired Florida International University professors to reapportion the county’s nine districts to reflect the county’s demographic shifts, while attempting to preserve the “one person, one vote” principle.
The changes shifted about 40% of the districts’ make-up, Commissioner Steve Geller said.
Not everyone thinks the map that was chosen Tuesday by the Commission’s unanimous vote is fair, however.
Miramar City Commissioner Alexandra Davis was running for the District 8 seat vacated when Barbara Sharief resigned from the Commission to run for an open Congressional seat. Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed Jared Moskowitz of Parkland to serve in that seat until the 2022 election. The new map shows his district has a voting-age population that’s 55% Black, but that district is no longer located where Davis lives.
Instead of the southwest corner of the county, District 8 is now located roughly between Copans Road to the north and Davie Boulevard to the south.
The redistricting approved Tuesday puts Davis in Commissioner Nan Rich’s District 1 that, like all odd-numbered districts, won’t come up for re-election until 2024. And Rich, a former state Senator, is not term-limited until 2028.
Rich’s new district has a voting-age population that’s about 52% Hispanic, according to Census data.
“What we have is a concerted effort to roll back the clock,” Davis said.
Geller said it’s not unusual for plans to be upended in a redistricting year. State lawmakers are going through the same thing.
“You have people that have been running for a year or more for a seat that doesn’t exist (anymore) in the Legislature,” said Geller, who has also been a state Senator.
District 7 also has a plurality of Hispanic residents under the new map. Currently, the district is represented by Commissioner Tim Ryan, who won’t be up for re-election until 2024.