What some consider a boring, inconsequential issue, current and former HCC trustees Dr. Reagan Flowers and Carroll Robinson agree that it could effectively destroy the current configuration of Houston’s historic Third Ward for years, possibly decades to come.
Flowers, the current District IV trustee, recently hosted a town hall meeting at Trinity East United Methodist Church to inform Third Ward residents why the approval of new HCC redistricting maps is so crucial. Flowers had Robinson, politico Dwight Boykins, activist Ken Rodgers and others in attendance to help make her case.
There are multiple maps being considered as the go-forward HCC redistricting map, but essentially only two versions. One “version” keeps large parts of Third Ward out of HCC District IV, a change that originally happened in 2010, the last time HCC went through redistricting.
The second group of maps places those “lost” portions of Third Ward back into District IV. Flowers and Robinson are for this version.
Following every US Census, HCC reconfigures its districts to reflect demographic shifts. Because District IV has grown and District III has lost residents, one proposed map seeks to take more area and residents from the predominantly Third Ward-based District IV. However, many believe a proposed map that breaks up Third Ward even more is being pushed to dilute the community’s voting and advocacy power.
Flowers, who has resided in Third Ward for 25 years, is in favor of a proposed map that restores parts of Third Ward to her district that were removed previously.
“To teach at Jack Yates and not have [Yates] in the district; it’s like, how is that possible? To be at SHAPE Community Center where I’m doing after-school programming and it not be in the district; how is that possible? Emancipation Park, Riverside too. That’s a problem. We have to protect our historical landmarks, our history,” said Flowers.
For Robinson, it’s about the precedent the next approved map will set for the future.
“This is not just a conversation about HCC redistricting, you have got to gird yourself for a couple of things that are coming down the pike,” said Robinson, who believes the proposed HCC map that takes even more Third Ward area and residents out of District IV will lay the framework for several other maps to come, and cement the dismantling of Third Ward.
“There’s likely to be a city referendum on the 2023 ballot to go to all single-member council districts. Whether you agree or disagree, my rule is you hope for the best, you prepare for the worst. So, if we go to all single-member council districts, what does your district look like? And this conversation about what (HCC) District IV should look like has the potential to be a legal map that establishes a cornerstone should the city go to all single-member council districts, of what (District D) could possibly look like, or the HISD map,” added Robinson.
When Robinson began his time as HCC trustee he inherited a district that had been stripped of whole chucks of Third Ward.
“When I got elected to the HCC (board) they had already gone through the 2010 Census and redistricting, and a lot of folks just assumed that everything beyond Eagle St., i.e. the TSU Garage, Jack Yates, the Cuney Homes and everything coming towards the bottom of Third Ward was in the district. And it had been in the district in the past. But during that redistricting process, they changed what District IV looked like and sent it all the way out to Alief. Alief is a great community, great school district, large minority population. But they dis-configured Third Ward. This is the only entity where Third Ward is not consolidated,” Robinson stated.
Robinson says, the result is a lot of residents (employers) don’t even know their HCC board representatives (employees).
“When you’re an employer, when you’re an owner and you don’t know your employee, that’s an off-putting situation. So, I’m for (the HCC redistricting map presented by Dr. Flowers), because it’s in the interests of this community for long-term consequences,” said Robinson, who believes the proposed map that separates Third Ward even more will create disjointed community representation that will not allow the neighborhood to speak with a unified voice—especially with a new mayor coming in 2023.
THE CALL TO ACTION
Flowers is adamant that it should not be her district’s responsibility to make up for population losses to District III.
“We want [the new map] to be fair. We want it to be thoughtful. And we want it to be respectful, particularly of our historical communities and our neighborhoods. We don’t want to see them torn apart and dismantled,” said Flowers, who called the neighborhood town hall to let residents know action is needed. And fast.
“We have a very small window to get this done. And if I waited on others, they may not have called a meeting until January or February. But the decision for the final map is January 15,” said Flowers.
Adding to the urgency, Robinson said in 50 years neither the Harris County Commissioners Court nor justices of the peace have been redistricted. But the HCC redistricting will have immediate ramifications.
“I think there’s going to be a group of folks who are going to bring litigation against the county to either draw new maps or go litigate new maps. So, this conversation (about HCC redistricting) is going to be a cornerstone… When you go into court, communities of interest are defined by existing political and geographic boundaries. And when they get ready to draw new Constable precincts, Justice of the Peace precincts, depending on what the HCC map looks like, somebody will use it as a counterpoint to make the argument that (Third Ward does) not have to be consolidated.”
Flowers wants the voices of District IV residents heard loud and clear by the HCC board, and is calling for folk to sign up for the next meeting and speak.
She has other actions she’s calling individuals and organizations to do:
Host a meeting, share the Townhall presentation, invite her to speak to your group/organization and share on all information and updates on social media.
“I encourage members of the HCC District IV community to review proposed maps and to submit the map that best represents your interest to help ensure there is fair representation in the Houston Community College redistricting process,” said Flowers via her website.
- Step 1: Locate and review redistricting information as it stands now at https://www.hccs.edu/about-hcc/board-of-trustees/hcc-redistricting-information/presentations/
- Step 2: Access the Sept. 21 board meeting (Redistricting Maps Presentation) to view all of the map iterations that impact District IV at
- Step 3: Identify the District IV map drafted that best represents your interests and make a copy. You can also download the map interation that you want from www.reaganflowers.com to submit with or without comments. It is recommended that you make comments.
- Step 4: To submit your District IV map with comments by the Jan. 15, 2023 deadline visit https://www.hccs.edu/about-hcc/board-of-trustees/hcc-redistricting-information/questionsfeedback/