During the April 13th Leon County Board of County Commissioners meeting, the Commissioners heard the status report for the Commission redistricting process. They have approved the scheduling of the Public Hearing for adopting the ordinance amending the County districts. The Public Hearing will be held December 14, 2021 at six o’clock p.m.
The approval of the Public Hearing date ensures that the Leon County Commission districts reflect the results of the 2020 Census and the redistricting process is completed by statutorily established deadlines, according to the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes.
Typically, the redistricting process begins in March or April, but due to COIVD-19 the process for the collection and publishing of Census data has been delayed by about six months. The U.S. Census Bureau will release the National Summary File of Redistricting Data by September 30th, 2021. Consequently, the redistricting at both the state and local level have been delayed as well.
Once the Census data is released in September, the workgroup responsible for analyzing the data will draw up a redistricting map to propose to the County Commission for their consideration. The assessment should be sure the districts are “compact, contiguous, as nearly equal in proportion to population as possible, should include both incorporated and unincorporated areas, and follow the guidelines outlined in the Final Judgement regarding the minority-majority access districts.”
By November 9th, 2021 the Board will be presented the proposed changes and will authorize or prohibit the report to be reviewed by the NAACP and the District Court. Next, in order to reach impacted neighborhoods, mailouts will be sent to all residents with information about the changes and how they can submit feedback to the County. Additionally, all of the County’s available “print, radio, television, digital and social media resources,” like Nextdoor, will be utilized to ensure public awareness.
Finally, during the Public Hearing on December 14th, the Board will consider adopting the proposed redistricting map, including any revisions resulting from the public outreach. The new commission districts must be completed and adopted by December 31st, “in order for the new district boundaries to be utilized in the 2022 election.” If the process is no completed by the deadline the County will be permitted to delay the redistricting until 2023, the next odd-numbered year.