Redrawn maps submitted to the court in redistricting lawsuit

Maroon IIIE FIX DRAFT Council Districts Map

The lines have been drawn in the ongoing legal battle for what will be the new City Council District Map for the City of Jacksonville.

After several days of meetings, culminating in a six-hour Special Council meeting on Friday, Nov. 4, the Jacksonville City Council voted on a newly-drawn district map to submit to the court for consideration.

The Jacksonville branch of the NAACP, Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, Inc., Florida Rising Together, Inc. and the ACLU of Florida Northeast Chapter — along with 10 citizens — filed the lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville in May of this year claiming the existing district map, based on the 2011 redistricting map, was unconstitutional and violated the 14th Amendment.

In an order issued in October, the court agreed.

“The evidence that the Challenged Districts are the product of intentional race-based decision-making is largely unrebutted and compelling…” wrote U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard.

In that same order, the court set the Nov. 8 deadline for the City Council to submit a new map that does not “use race as a predominant factor in the design of any district…”

To comply with that order, the City engaged the services of Dr. Douglas Johnson, president of National Demographics Corporation and expert in districting and redistricting.

“We brought in experts to make sure that we’re not gonna present you with a map that’s unconstitutional,” said General Counsel Jason at the meeting. “And so we’re comfortable with whatever map…But we’re not gonna put something in front of you that we don’t think the court won’t ultimately accept.”

Johnson presented a series of maps — Orange, Lime and Maroon — to the Special Committee on Redistricting.

“I started from scratch,” Johnson said at the meeting, explaining the origin of the Maroon map. “I essentially took the major roads, the rivers, the tributaries, the freeways and the CPAC regions and developed the Maroon Map looking at all those factors, equal population and trying to keep each council members — each current council member in their current district. So that was the start of the Maroon Map.”

Based on the requests and adjustments suggested by council members, Johnson then created six variations of the Maroon Map iterations — Maroon Map IIIA thru F, which were the maps the committee discussed that Friday.

Maroon Map IIIE Fixed emerged as the map that accommodated the majority of requests made by council members, though it was not met with unanimous support.

In this map, the District 14 communities of Avondale and Riverside would move to District 10 while Ortega remained in 14. The areas for Districts 7 and 8 swapped places and San Mateo would remain in District 2 with “some territory north of it” moving to District 7, among various other alterations.

Council Member Randy DeFoor argued passionately to keep the historic neighborhoods of Riverside, Avondale and Ortega in District 14, initially voting against the map along with Council Members LeAnna Cumber (5), Joyce Morgan (1) and Brenda Priestly Jackson (10). When it became evident that the council ran the very real risk of having nothing to submit to the court by the pre-determined deadline, however, DeFoor made a motion to reconsider after consulting with Johnson and Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland about the possibility of reuniting Ortega with its historic neighbors.

“There just — there’s no way we can make a move of Riverside and Avondale into 14, which breaks my heart,” she said. “In honor of you and all the hard work that you’ve all done, I make a motion to reconsider.”

Jackson remained the sole opponent to Maroon Map IIIE Fixed.

Once the map was submitted to the court, Teal explained the plaintiffs would also have the opportunity to review it.

The court order provided a deadline of Nov. 18 for the plaintiffs to submit any objections as well as their own map(s). They submitted three for consideration. These three maps can be viewed at

According to a statement on ACLU of Florida’s website, the maps submitted by the plaintiffs reflect districts that “are logical and compact, as the City Charter requires,” the “lines respect neighborhoods, follow major geographic boundaries, and preserve genuine communities of interest” and dismantles “the racial gerrymandering that has violated Black Jacksonville residents’ rights to equal protection of the laws, while also complying with the Voting Rights Act and protecting representation.”

“This is about Black voters being able to express themselves — their clout, their power and their influence to the extent of their demographic position in the City,” said Northside Coalition of Jacksonville’s Ben Frazier. “Jacksonville is 29.9% Black. We wanna have influence in all the City Council Districts.”

“Unfortunately the City didn’t take into account, in its consideration initially, the voice of the people,” he added. “They already made up their mind what its gonna do and they didn’t listen to us at all.”

Per the court order, the City had until Nov. 28 to file a reply supporting its submitted map and any arguments against the plaintiffs’.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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