Early this coming week, I am told that the Texas House will vote on the proposed Congressional Redistricting map. The current version that I have seen would create a new Congressional District—District 36—that would run from Eastern Harris County through the Big Thicket Counties of East Texas to the Louisiana border. This new district will include the part of Harris County where I live. Having looked at it closely, I believe the current map is flawed and am asking that the legislature re-draw it, because it does not reflect the present and future interests of the communities that form the new district and the adjacent districts.
Essentially, the new map divides communities in the Galveston Bay area that share economic and political interests, while retaining an increasingly irrelevant bond between Sugar Land and the Johnson Space Center. It appears that what our politicians have drawn is a map that divides the very Republican-leaning corridor of communities running through at least four counties (Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston and Harris) among three different districts to maximize Republican voting strength for at least two Republican incumbents. However, if the lines were more appropriately drawn, those incumbents would still be protected, while the new district would be more likely to elect a Republican, too—but one who would represent the interests of a more integrated political community.
If properly drawn, Congressional District 22 should represent the growing communities of Fort Bend and Northern Brazoria Counties, which increasingly share economic and political developments that are unique in the Greater Houston/Southeast Texas region. The economic areas of greater Pearland, Sugar Land and Katy deserve a strong and focused voice in Congress, which they would retain in the incumbent, Pete Olson, who resides in Sugar Land.
Meanwhile, Congressional District 14 has long represented the interests of coastal and rural interests. Although the western boundary of that district has now shifted to the east, it should be further drawn to take in the rest of the coast line to Louisiana, and to the north of Beaumont and Orange into the Big Thicket to retain its representation of rural Texans. Dr. Paul should be able to win this district and would know how to represent the interests of all the communities in the newly-drawn eastern portion of the district.
That would leave the new District 36 to represent the increasingly economically and politically integrated communities of the Galveston Bay area, including the key employment centers of the Johnson Space Center and the Port of Houston. It should include Friendswood, League City, Clear Lake Shores, Kemah and Dickinson in Galveston County; the Clear Lake Area communities of Webster, Nassau Bay, Taylor Lake Village, Seabrook, and the Clear Lake portion Council District E of Houston; the communities that surround the Port of Houston, including Shoreacres, La Porte, Deer Park, Pasadena and Baytown; and the surrounding communities of Chambers, Liberty and Polk Counties.
Instead, all of these communities have been carved and shuffled among the three districts in a manner that makes no economic or political sense. The residents of Taylor Lake Village, Seabrook, La Porte and Baytown have nothing economically or politically in common with the residents of the small communities in the Big Thicket, while they have been separated from their neighbors in Pasadena and Northern Galveston County, who live and work together at the Space Center, the refineries and the Port. Meanwhile the interests of the residents of these communities that serve the Johnson Space Center increasingly have nothing to do with the growing interests of Sugar Land and Katy.
All of these communities need coherent, coordinated, and focused representation in Washington, which requires separate representation in Congress. As the Texas House takes up this important issue over the next few days, I hope our representatives will reconsider the lines of these three districts and draw more appropriate boundaries. If they do, they will retain and probably increase the number of Republicans elected to Congress from Texas, while giving the communities in this region proper representation over the next 10 years.