Duval County

City council approves new local district map, despite opposition from community activists

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE 8:30 p.m.: The Jacksonville City Council has voted to pass the new district maps with a 17-1 vote.


Jacksonville City Council will vote and likely approve new local district maps Tuesday evening, but community activists are vowing to sue because they claim the maps dilute Black voting power in Duval County.

The new maps are similar to the city council maps already in place, and opponents argue that’s the problem.

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“The Jacksonville City Council had an opportunity to make a touchdown,” said Ben Frazier, head of the Northside Coalition, ahead of Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Frazier argued the proposed maps are a continuation of packing Black residents into four main segregated districts.

“That is patently unfair because it dilutes Black voting strengths in all the other city council districts,” said Frazier.

City Councilman Garrett Dennis (D-District 9), who chaired the redistricting committee, argues the new maps are constitutional.

He said it’s a simple fact that Jacksonville has distinct Black and white majority areas.

“To cut a large neighborhood, a large area from the Northside and somehow supplant them to the Southside to make that Southside more diverse, it just doesn’t work like that,” said Dennis.

University of North Florida political science professor Dr. Michael Binder largely agreed with Dennis’ assessment.

“Could those votes be allocated better for Black representation? Certainly. Does it rise to the level that the courts would get involved and say this is an unconstitutional map? I think probably not,” said Binder.

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On the other hand, Binder argues a larger threat to Black voting power in Duval County comes from the battle over the Congressional maps.

The governor has vowed to veto maps passed by the state Legislature and has favored this map, which his office proposed back in January.

It dismantles CD 5, a minority access district currently held by Democratic Congressman Al Lawson, that runs from Tallahassee to Jacksonville’s urban core.

“And turn it essentially into a lean Republican district, majority white,” said Binder.

Still, a lawsuit is expected to be filed against the local map.

Councilman Dennis said he’s all for it.

“You have something you don’t like, let the courts look at it to make sure it meets the letter of the law,” said Dennis.

Black residents account for roughly 29% of Duval’s population.

The local map proposes four Black majority districts, accounting for roughly 28% of the city council seats.