Jacksonville City Council narrows choices on ‘remedy’ redistricting maps

Jax maroon map
'Sometimes fixing one problem causes another.'

In the wake of a federal judge striking down Jacksonville’s redistricting map for its 2023 elections, a City Council Special Committee continued its work Tuesday toward a remedial product.

The panel considered four proposed maps, with two moving forward for further tweaks and consideration, keeping the process seemingly on track to satisfy the expedited Nov. 8 deadline for a map complying with the federal court order.

The committee heard Tuesday from its redistricting consultant, Douglas Johnson of California, who has been tasked with helping provide maps for review and consideration.

Johnson described this process as a “remedy” map, to fix concerns, outlining four different maps including one from the plaintiffs who sued to challenge the original product.

The so-called “unity” map (presented by plaintiffs, and rejected Tuesday with scant discussion) and the other maps lower the amount of majority-Black districts from four to three, he noted. But the goal is to “preserve the communities,” he said.

The so-called “maroon” map, one of three from the city, had anomalies in Districts 9 and 14, the latter of which resembles the cartoon bird Woodstock. The “lime” map is similar, with further tweaks in Southwestern Duval County. Both, which moved forward for consideration in Wednesday’s meeting, can be seen below.

And the rejected “orange” map presented the least geographic whimsy of the three city maps, with Interstate 295 used as a marker, keeping rural districts 12 and 10 on the outside and 7, 8, 9 and 14 largely inside the beltway. It was the least favorite of the proposals by the committee.

The previous map, which packed Black voters North and West of the St. Johns into four districts, was said to have fomented an “unnecessary racial segregation,” driving the Council to engage the special committee in a wholesale review of the disputed Council districts this week, with an eye toward full Council review of the map as early as Friday.

Council members pressed Johnson on his map proposal.

Westside Republican Randy Defoor questioned “neighborhood splitting,” with Johnson denoting one issue is people can’t agree on neighborhood boundaries. Defoor, whose family has been part of Jacksonville for decades, disagreed.

Southside Republican Aaron Bowman objected to the splitting of Queen’s Harbor, a gated community in his district, in the orange map.

“That’s got to change,” Bowman said.

Outgoing Democrat Reggie Gaffney, whose son is running to replace him in a Special Election on the current map, pressed on the question of cutting one of the four minority access districts. He was reminded that, per the court ruling, race could not be the “predominant factor.”

“Party affiliation is something you could look at,” said Republican Al Ferraro, complaining about “carving up neighborhoods.”

“Sometimes fixing one problem causes another,” Ferraro, a mayoral candidate, said. He noted he couldn’t read the demographic numbers on the maps because the print was too small.

Discussion moved forward despite these qualms. The maroon map was advocated by Defoor, Rory Diamond, Gaffney, Nick Howland, Sam Newby and Randy White. Maroon and lime will move forward for consideration Wednesday.

Republicans are driving the process. Six of seven committee members belong to the GOP, and Republicans have a supermajority on the City Council. The only Democrat on the committee was appointed originally by then-Gov. Rick Scott, However, the original maps’ packing scheme had bipartisan backing.

The strongest voices in favor of the previous packing scheme were Black Democrats, including the sole Democrat on the current committee. Ju’Coby Pittman, the Scott appointee, said it was “difficult” to weigh in on the maps because the divergent color schemes from one to the other threw her.

“At this point, I just feel like I need to do my own map,” Pittman said.

Community members complained about the maps, with Duval Democratic Party chair Daniel Henry, a critic of the previous process, contending the City Council followed a defective process this time around just as it did before.

“What y’all are saying is f*** the people,” added Carnell Oliver, a regular public commenter who went on to threaten to “break the back” of “corrupt politicians in this community.”

See the Maroon and Lime maps below.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


One comment

  • kick Olive out

    November 2, 2022 at 5:38 am

    Carnell Oliver should be removed from the building. he continually uses profanity when he speaks, enough is enough, kick him out for good. he does not have enough intelligence to speak without using profanity, it is his nature

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