NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners approved new lines for their districts Tuesday, keeping with their preferred geographic boundaries and avoiding discussion of a change that prompted the Pasco School Board to draw its own maps to avoid moving one board member into the district of another board member.
Redistricting happens every 10 years after U.S. census results are tabulated. As the population grows and shifts over time, the process is meant to ensure that all representative districts include approximately the same number of residents.
In October when county commissioners explored their options, county staffers took into consideration special requests.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who represents District 3, lives in a home in Gulf Harbors but also owns a home in Aristida, located in District 4. She asked staffers to redraw the lines to include the property she owns in Aristida because she plans to live there with her mother while she is building a new home in Gulf Harbors.
The change was incorporated into the commission districts’ new map but inadvertently meant that School Board member Alison Crumbley, who also lives in Aristida, would no longer be in the district she currently represents. The School Board has traditionally adopted the same maps as the County Commission. She and other school officials were peeved that they were not consulted on the maps before the commissioners decided on new boundaries.
Ultimately the School Board adjusted its maps so that Crumbley could still represent her district.
During Tuesday’s commission discussion, there was no talk of the change requested by Starkey. One speaker from the public, Deborah Kauffman, president of the Hillsborough and Pasco county chapter of the League of Women Voters, explained the importance of the redistricting process and how it should not favor a candidate or party.
County Commissioner Mike Moore said that equal representation isn’t an issue in Pasco since everyone in the county gets to vote for every commission candidate. Commissioners themselves must each live in a distinct geographic district. “That’s the great thing about Pasco,” he said. “You get to pick all of us.”
Starkey, who was also elected chairwoman of the Pasco County Commission for 2022 on Tuesday, said she thought her previous district lines, which included parts of Wesley Chapel, were “crazy wacky” and that the new lines made more sense. Although she said she was sorry that the boundaries for commission and School Board were now different, “I think it serves the citizens much better.”