JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Following a settlement agreement, the City of Jacksonville will use a map drawn up by the Jacksonville NAACP, Northside Coalition, Florida Rising and other civil rights groups.
This is a huge victory for Jacksonville civil rights groups, who sued the city for racial gerrymandering and won with a federal judge citing Jacksonville’s “30-year history of racial gerrymandering.”
Now, the settlement is pending approval from a district court. It’s worth noting that the district courts have already sided with the civil rights groups multiple times in this back-and-forth with the city.
This move would throw out the city’s proposal in their appeal and permanently adopt the NAACP’s redistricting map with the goal in mind of protecting the power of the African American voter in Jacksonville.
In the bill, it said that the reason redistricting has been deemed “emergency legislation” is due to confusion caused over the city’s redistricting furring the March election and to avoid any confusion in the May and future elections.
Action News Jax had the chance to speak with Florida State Representative Angie Dixon on Wednesday, who supports this decision. Dixon says the city’s gerrymandering was simply an effort by some incumbent council members to protect their own seats, instead of reflecting all the voices of Jacksonville residents and voters.
“Look, elected officials shouldn’t be looking out for elected officials, we should be looking out for the will of the people,” said Dixon. “It’s not right for us as elected officials to want to protect our seats.”
And Jacksonville city councilman Matt Carlucci voted in favor of this settlement and agrees with Nixon, outlining another way in which gerrymandering works against the interests of the people.
“When you start making ‘safe districts’ for any elected representative, then they don’t have to pay attention to the other party,” Carlucci explained to Action News Jax. “We are all people that live in this city and we deserve equal representation.”
Action News Jax has also reached out to city councilman Reggie Gaffney Jr., who voted against the settlement. Councilman Gaffney Jr. explained his decision in the statement attached below:
“From The Office of Jacksonville City Council Member Reggie Gaffney Jr:
I didn’t vote in favor of the settlement because, from the beginning, I was never a supporter of the Judge’s decision. Mostly because the outcome of this decision is much greater than what the plaintiff’s and community see, and the outcome of this decision will be unfairly felt in times to come”
The new settlement agreement would go into effect immediately upon being signed by a district court federal judge.
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