Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Murray Hill Wins Another Map Look Neighbors Fight Redistricting Plan

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Murray Hill Wins Another Map Look Neighbors Fight Redistricting Plan

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Galnor, Times-Union staff writer

Two redistricting options now are up for discussion in a City Council committee, responding to a vocal group of Murray Hill residents looking to stay in a council district with Riverside and Avondale.

Councilman Jim Overton, who represents the majority of Murray Hill, drafted both proposals. One option he sees as a "concept idea" and the other more politically realistic, he said.

The first would bring Avondale and North Riverside into a now urban and predominantly minority district, creating a half-black and half-white district. The second would swap half of Murray Hill into the district it's in now, represented by Overton, and put Lakeshore in the more urban district, represented by Councilman Reggie Fullwood.

Fullwood, who has Murray Hill in his district under the current proposal, is strongly against both plans.

"I'm not trying to be difficult about it," Fullwood said. "I don't want to represent people who don't want me, I don't want to represent people who are going to lobby against me every chance they get, but I think the map we have right now makes sense."

Both proposals, and several other minor tweaks to the map, surfaced Thursday in a council redistricting workshop. None of the changes have been drawn on the official proposal and another workshop is planned, though not yet scheduled. The council Rules Committee will have to vote on a map before sending it to the full council. The council must approve the new map, required every 10 years to reflect population shifts, by Dec. 4.

Changes are tricky, especially at this stage, because districts must be roughly the same in population. There can't be more than a 10 percent difference between the largest and the smallest.

Murray Hill residents have swarmed to public hearings -- about 100 attended one last month -- and council meetings on redistricting, making their desires to stay in a district with their preservation-minded neighbors widely known.

"I've said all along I'm going to represent them in trying to get a modification to the map," Overton said. "What they want is not unreasonable. …

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