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. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018


    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    And Ramos is giving the Rays a pretty good glimpse of what that can be like.

    In Friday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, he hit a grand slam - …

  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Scouting Report: Watching Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen


    No matter how much film we study, no matter how much data we parse, we just don't know how an NFL season will unfold.

  3. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  5. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.