By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald
A redistricting process for Killeen's four city council districts is in full swing and could leave many voters represented by new faces come election time in 2012.
Redrawing district boundaries became necessary following the 2010 Census, which confirmed that District 4's population growth in southwest Killeen rapidly outpaced the other three districts.
Currently, 53,918 people live in District 4, compared to 21,318 people in District 1, City Attorney Kathy Davis said during Tuesday's council workshop.
In keeping with guidelines outlined in state and federal laws, municipalities should avoid population deviations greater than 10 percent between the largest and smallest districts, Davis explained.
As it stands now, the deviation between District 1 and District 4 is 101 percent.
"We knew it was going to be big, but had no idea it would be that big," Davis said Thursday.
In the latest census, Killeen's population was 127,921, which means the ideal size for each district is 31,980 people.
"We desperately need to redistrict," Davis said. "Clearly we have no other choice."
During Tuesday's workshop, Davis presented three redistricting options for the council's consideration. In early September, the council plans to adopt new boundaries and the following month, submit those to the Department of Justice.
In terms of the districts' appearances, the first two options looked similar to the city's current boundaries. Both plans would effectively shift all the districts west and achieve population deviations of 2.7 and 1.31 percent, respectively.
The downside to the first option, Davis said, is that two councilmen - Juan Rivera and Terry Clark - would find themselves in District 2.
In the second option, District 4 Councilman Mike Lower would find himself living outside his own district, moving him to District 3.
The third option would not displace any council member and achieve the lowest population deviation of 0.25 percent. Under this plan, the district boundaries would be altered significantly and feature a District 3 that wraps around a much smaller District 4.
A slight variation of the third option seemed to be favored by the majority of the council during the workshop.
But at-large Councilman Larry Cole said he did not believe the top priority should be on protecting council members within their current districts. "I don't think that's what the citizens want to hear us discussing," he said. "I don't think displaced members should be a consideration."
Davis stressed on Thursday that more options besides those presented this week are likely to come forward.
Contact Andy Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.