Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough's new county commission districts unfair, Hispanic group says

TAMPA — A group of Hispanic leaders has filed a protest with the U.S. Department of Justice challenging Hillsborough County commissioners' plans for redrawing their political districts.

The Hillsborough Hispanic Coalition says the proposed map actually dilutes the ability of Latino voters to influence elections at a time when their population has exploded in Central Florida.

Though Hillsborough County's Hispanics accounted for 55 percent of population growth in the past decade, the proposed political district map, "actually weakens their power," said Diana Sen, senior counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a New York City-based civil rights group assisting the effort.

"The county has a burden to show they are not weakening Hispanic voting strength," Sen said during a ceremonial signing of the protest letter Wednesday, "and at a time when they should be increasing it."

The groups point out that five other boundary maps considered by commissioners would have strengthened the Hispanic vote by concentrating part of it in one district. And they would have created districts that were more compact than the ones commissioners adopted.

Hillsborough County has seven commissioners, including three chosen in countywide elections. The other three represent parts of the county, very generally South and West Tampa (District 1), Central and East Tampa (District 3), northern Hillsborough (District 2) and eastern and southern Hillsborough (District 4).

District 3 has a concentration of African-American voters and has recently elected black elected leaders, while there is no so-called Hispanic opportunity district.

The coalition takes particular exception to the new boundaries for District 1, which includes the historically Hispanic stronghold of West Tampa. The new boundaries lower the percentage of Hispanics from 35 percent in 2001 to 32 percent, even though the Latino population accounted for 94 percent of the population growth in that area, according to the protest letter.

District 3 also would see its Hispanic population shrink slightly, by less than 1 percent, with the new maps. But the group says that is not insignificant since Hispanic residents account for an overwhelming share of the growth there.

Democrat Les Miller, who signed off on the initial map, which further strengthened his African-American voting base, is now floating a proposal to carve out a Hispanic district. His proposal, scheduled to come back up next year, would require a referendum.

Hillsborough County voting rights practices are overseen by the Department of Justice due to past discriminatory activity. That means the agency has to approve redistricting proposals every 10 years. It is now reviewing the county's redistricting map proposal.

"What we're asking for is an equal place at the table," said William Guerra, a member of the Hillsborough County Hispanic Democratic Caucus, which is part of the coalition.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or

Hillsborough's new county commission districts unfair, Hispanic group says 12/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]