By Lauren Cabral
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE - Coryell County commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the Model One redistricting plan Monday morning despite Copperas Cove residents' requests to approve the Wall 2 plan, which they said would have given them more representation.
Commissioners Daren Moore, Don Jones and Justin Latham voted for Moore's motion to approve Model One, the plan that made the least changes to existing precinct lines.
Coryell County Judge John Firth and Commissioner Jack Wall voted against the motion.
Moore said he believed Model One was best because Wall 2 changed Precinct 3's boundaries significantly so the voting base would be made up of mainly Copperas Cove voters instead of those from a wider area of Coryell County.
"I just felt it was rigging the system, basically. It was rigging the election process," he said.
The special meeting was well-attended, and prior to voting committee members, Copperas Cove residents and Gatesville Mayor David Byrom addressed the court about the plans.
Al Castillo, a Cove resident, said Copperas Cove has more than 40 percent of the county's population and deserves more representation, though he admitted the city usually has a low voter turnout, and its residents don't usually run for the court.
"Some of it is our fault because we don't get someone out here who wants to make the 40-mile drive to be at the court," he said.
He added the city generates more than $1 billion of the county's $2.1 billion tax income.
"Something's not right," he said.
Committee member Marty Smith, who is also the president of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, said she supported Wall 2.
"I hope that you guys will vote for Wall 2 because then it's up to Copperas Cove citizens to come forward and vote," she said.
Copperas Cove resident Ed Thompson said he also supported Wall 2.
"Think about that for the future of the city rather than for a select area of the county for which you all serve," he said.
Byrom urged the court to remember the rest of the county. "I think I certainly hear Cove's position," he said, but said the commissioners represented more than the city's population.
Guinn said both plans met all legal guidelines, but he preferred Wall 2 because it gave one precinct 43.84 percent minority voters, as opposed to Model One, where the highest minority representation was 39.37.
"I always prefer the plan that has the highest minority precinct," he said, but added neither plans gave a minority a majority of representation in any precinct.
Firth thanked the committee and those attending for their participation and Model One would be sent to the Justice Department for approval.
The Feds have 60 days to approve the plan, unless it requests more information from the county, which will extend the approval deadline 15 extra days.
He said getting the plan approved before the Nov. 12 filing deadline for the 2012 election was important for candidates and military voters casting ballots overseas.
Contact Lauren Cabral at email@example.com or (254) 501-7476.