Riverside and Avondale to Remain In Same Council District

A proposal to separate Riverside and Avondale and place the neighborhoods in different City Council districts has been shot down. It all stems from a meeting in early October between council members Randy DeFoor, Reggie Gaffney, Ju’Coby Pittman, Randy White, and Aaron Bowman.

The meeting was originally called for Pittman and White to try and work out an agreement involving their new district boundaries. All districts must be near each other in voting populations.

DeFoor presented a plan she said would help get all the districts west and north of the St. Johns River in compliance by moving Riverside from her District 14 into Gaffney’s District 7. That would be offset by moving a portion of White’s District 2 near Old Mill Road into DeFoor’s 14.

During that meeting DeFoor said it creates a win—win and would reinforce everyone’s district. ““Riverside is more in line with Brooklyn and Springfield than it really is with the rest of my district. The voting is very similar in all those areas, very strongly so,” she said.

But separating Riverside and Avondale didn’t go over very well with the people who live there.

Many residents of the neighborhoods made their displeasure known including several prominent Democrats who called the proposal “gerrymandering” by pushing the more progressive Riverside into a district that was already very heavily Democratic.

It was also opposed by residential preservation groups like RAP that want to keep Riverside and Avondale together.

RAP Executive Director Shannon Blankinship said the organization is committed to retaining all of the Riverside-Avondale Historic District within one single boundary.

“Our historic district is a district planning unit with protection and ordinances, enforcement and expertise behind it. Retaining these protections within one district is critical to our work,” she said.

DeFoor said her proposal was just a suggestion and she now opposes any split.

”I recognized having grown up in Avondale, that neighbors in the Riverside-Avondale Historic District have a kinship,” she said. “Changing the lines to separate them into two districts would not change our neighborhoods but could change our identity. I firmly support keeping the Riverside-Avondale Historic District together.”

DeFoor said her proposed map was just an attempt to find an equitable solution that would satisfy all council members and not anything nefarious to protect Republicans.

The border conflict between White and Pittman’s districts has been resolved and still keeps Riverside and Avondale together. A final proposed map will likely be finalized in November.  There will be a series of Town Hall meetings next year to present the map to residents for public input before it can be voted on.

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