?AUSTIN —Somervell County would get a new congressman and be placed on the eastern tail of a sprawling West Texas district that stretches all the way to the New Mexico border and includes Midland-Odessa under a proposed redistricting plan in the Texas House.
The so-called Solomons-Seliger map, named for its House sponsors, places Somervell in the 11th Congressional District currently represented by U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, a Republican from Midland. Somervell has been part of 17th Congressional District, which stretches from southern Tarrant County to Waco and south to Bryan. It's currently represented by Bill Flores, R-Bryan, a businessman and political newcomer who last fall defeated veteran House member Chet Edwards, D-Waco.
The Texas Legislature is meeting in special session to redraw congressional district lines. Texas' population grew so much when the last Census was taken that it will receive four new congressional seats. In order to meet the constitutional requirement of “one person, one vote” and the U.S. Voting Rights Act, legislators have the task of drawing districts that are about equal in number of voters and that also give minorities equal opportunities to political representation. Each district must have about 700,000 constituents.
Critics, however, said within hours of viewing the proposed redistricting plan that it was drawn to favor the election of Republicans.
The 11th Congressional District is very conservative and in 2008 voted overwhelmingly for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.? Under the proposal, the redrawn district retains Tom Green County and includes San Angelo, Odessa and Midland. It adds Somervell, Callahan, Eastland, Erath, Hood, Palo Pinto and part of Stephens County. Conaway loses Schleicher County.
Please see this week's Glen Rose Reporter for the complete story with local reaction. For the latest redistricting maps, go to the Texas Redistricting Web site at www.tlc.state.tx.us/redist/redist.htm and click on "DistrictViewer."