OC redistricting panel in final stretch; potentially major changes in store for Ocoee, Winter Garden

Committee members grappling with issues of future population growth, keeping communities of interest together as they attempt to draw fair and equitable lines

District 2 committee representative Jason Mellen, an Ocoee resident, explaining his proposed redistricting map at Monday's meeting.

The advisory panel charged with recommending a map that reconfigures the political boundaries of Orange County’s six commission districts — reflecting population growth and shifts over the last decade — is heading toward the final stretch of its mandate.


In nine public meetings over the last two months, the 15-member Advisory Committee for Redistricting, has reviewed 14 proposed maps, but it has only advanced six of them for further consideration (see below). On Monday alone, the panel advanced three of those proposed maps. The last day to submit a map for consideration is Nov. 29. In VoxPopuli’s coverage area, Oakland, Windermere and Winter Garden are currently located in District 1 while Ocoee is split between Districts 1 and 2. Some of the proposed maps being considered either fully consolidate Ocoee into District 2 and/or split Winter Garden between Districts 1 and 2.


The goal of redistricting is to ensure that the county’s six districts contain equal populations so all residents have an equally weighted vote and that each county commissioner represents roughly the same number of people. Other principles are considered as well, such as the compactness and contiguity of the districts and preservation of communities of interest and political subdivisions, among others.

But adhering to such principles is proving to be difficult. Some members believe municipalities should be entirely consolidated into one district and not split into two like Ocoee. For instance, Jimmy Auffant and Julio Rocha, who represent District 4 on the committee, have repeatedly said they favor maps where communities are consolidated into one district rather than being split. However, Kelly Semrad, who represents District 5 on the panel, said larger communities may benefit from being split while smaller communities should be in one district and deal with one commissioner. Joe Kilsheimer, a former mayor of Apopka who represents District 2 on the committee, said splitting larger communities across two districts would not be a benefit to those communities. He said it’s a lot harder for their municipal governments and their staffs to deal with two county commissioners and their staffs than just one. Another emerging issue has been future growth. Some maps have tried to account for future development and population growth as a way to ensure that districts are balanced over the next 10 years. However, Cristina Berrios, assistant county attorney for Orange County, has indicated that future growth is not a primary consideration in redrawing the maps, but a secondary one. Another concern is potentially splitting or diluting Latino and African-American communities.


The redistricting committee will convene l after Thanksgiving for its final three scheduled meetings: Monday, Dec. 6, when it discusses a 15th proposed map; Thursday, Dec. 9; and Monday, Dec. 13, when it hopes to find consensus for a redrawn map. A consensus map is expected to be presented by mid-January to the Board of County Commissioners, which will have the final say.

 

Below are the six proposed redistricting maps that have been advanced for further consideration by the Advisory Committee for Redistricting. The panel is expected to consider more maps before it wraps up its work. Maps listed start with the most recent. Click on the map to see the county's legal analysis.


Proposal 13 Presented by Joe Kilsheimer, District 2 committee representative and former mayor of Apopka

  • Ocoee would be entirely consolidated into District 2. Currently, 9,527 live in District 1 while 37,768 people live in District 2.

  • Oakland, Windermere and Winter Garden will remain in District 1.

 

Proposal 12 Presented by Wes Hodge, District 5 committee representative and Orange County Democratic Party chair

  • Winter Garden, which is wholly in District 1, would be split with District 2 in this proposal. Hodge proposes 28,933 residents (61.61 percent) will live in District 1, while 18,031 (38.39 percent) will live in District 2.

  • Ocoee will continue to be split between Districts 1 and 2 but with a very slight population shift toward District 2.

  • Oakland and Windermere will remain in District 1.

 

Proposal 11 Presented by Jason Mellen, District 2 committee representative and Ocoee resident who is also vice chair of the Ocoee Planning and Zoning Commission

  • Winter Garden, which is wholly in District 1, would be split with District 2 in this proposal. Mellen proposes 36,093 residents (76.85 percent) will live in District 1, while 10,871 (23.15 percent) will live in District 2.

  • Ocoee, which is currently split between Districts 1 and 2, will be completely consolidated into District 2.

  • Oakland and Windermere will remain in District 1.

 

Proposal 10 Presented by Thomas Callan, District 3 committee representative and land use attorney

  • Winter Garden, which is wholly in District 1, would be split with District 2 in this proposal. Callan proposes 9,389 residents (19.99 percent) will live in District 1, while 37,575 (80.01 percent) will live in District 2.

  • Oakland, which is currently located in District 1, will be entirely moved to District 2.

  • Ocoee's population, which is currently split between Districts 1 and 2, will be slightly shifted to District 2.

  • Windermere will continue to remain in District 1.

 

Proposal 6a Presented by Homer Hartage, District 6 committee representative and business owner

  • Winter Garden, which is wholly in District 1, would be almost evenly split with District 2 in this proposal. Hartage proposes 22,650 residents (48.23 percent) will live in District 1, while 24,314 (51.77 percent) will live in District 2.

  • Ocoee's population, which is currently split between Districts 1 and 2, will be slightly shifted to District 2.

  • Both Oakland and Windermere will continue to remain in District 1.

 

Proposal 1a Presented by Jimmy Auffant, District 4 committee representative and local attorney


  • Ocoee, which is currently split between Districts 1 and 2, would be entirely consolidated into District 2. Currently, 9,527 live in District 1 while 37,768 people live in District 2.

  • Oakland, Windermere and Winter Garden will remain in District 1.

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