Updated: Mar 9
Could a late-addition map that boosts District 3’s minority population disrupt the redistricting process?
Winter Garden’s city commission is halfway through its approval process for a new voting districts map.
But that may not be the map the city ends up with.
VoxPopuli has obtained another voting districts map, one that creates an even larger minority population in District 3 while keeping all commissioners in their respective districts.
In this “Beta Map,” people of color would represent 60.26 percent of the population in District 3, compared to the Districting Commission’s submitted map where they make up 58.54 percent. There would be increases among those identifying as Black (19.13 percent in the Beta Map compared to 18.88 percent in the submitted map), Hispanic (26.89 percent v 24.83 percent) and bi-racial (5.9 percent v 5.63 percent). Asian (6.26 percent v 7.27 percent) and white (39.74 percent v 41.46 percent) populations would decrease.
The Beta Map was developed by Steve Dolgin, a member of the Districting Commission who’s a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated actuary.
Dolgin told VoxPopuli in an interview that he enjoys mapmaking. “Being a mathematician, I look at it as a fun optimization puzzle,” he said. “I believe the map that the Districting Commission submitted was a fine map, otherwise I wouldn't have voted for it. But that doesn't mean it couldn't be improved if someone were willing to put in ’endless’ hours of amusing mapmaking. My Beta Map improved the minority profile of District 3 and didn't harm anything else, so I personally like it even better than the one that was submitted.”
“It’s a fairer map,” Commissioner Ron Mueller, who represents District 2, said in a phone interview. “Minorities are distrustful of big government for a lot of reasons and don’t always answer questions, so we need to take extra care at the local level to ensure we’re being fair. This map is a more balanced, fairer map for the citizens of Winter Garden.”
Mueller said he’d like to workshop this map with the other commissioners.
District 4 Commissioner Colin Sharman, who had advocated for a larger minority district at Thursday’s city commission meeting, said in a phone interview that he was “interested” in the Beta Map and wanted to examine it further. Sharman indicated that he would support such a map, provided it didn’t “adversely impact” the city.
Reached as he was traveling, Commissioner Mark Maciel who represents District 3, said, “We will look at anything that makes districting better, even if it came in a little later. I, and I’m quite sure the rest of the commission, will look at anything that makes districting better and more fair.”
Maciel added that “for something as important as districting,” they would take longer than the two-week March 10 deadline the commission had originally decided on.