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Redistricting changing two Longview neighborhoods

By Glenn Evans
Aug. 15, 2011 at 10 p.m.

Voters in Longview's Valley View and Forest Park neighborhoods will shift south into the county's minority precinct under new political lines approved Monday by commissioners.

The shift, which is the only change to the four commissioner precincts under once-a-decade redistricting, reflects population changes since 2000. Political jurisdictions must be close to even in population, with the ideal number in Gregg County at 30,433 residents per precinct.

New locations for some neighborhood voting boxes will be decided in coming weeks, Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy said.

Commissioners learned earlier this year that Precinct 1, northeast Gregg County, has 3,826 too many people, at 34,259 residents. Precinct 4, which is southeast Gregg County, is 2,945 residents shy the ideal number, with 27,488 residents.

Precincts 2 and 3 have respective populations of 29,332 and 30,651 and were not changed.

The shift approved Monday, which must be OK'd by the U.S. Department of Justice, moved neighborhoods comprised largely of Hispanic and black residents in the Valley View and Forest Park areas into the minority precinct.

No member of the public spoke during a public hearing preceding the court's unanimous vote on the new lines. Commissioners Charles Davis of Precinct 1 and John Mathis of Precinct 4 carved out the map shift in recent weeks.

"It's a good plan," Davis said. "And I think the voting precincts are probably going to be OK as well."

Nealy said those lines, which determine where voters cast ballots on election day, will be redrawn with lines being designed by local schools and cities in mind.

The voting locations were a challenge this year with a Longview ISD building program removing some sites as campuses have been razed.

"I think we're good (on those)," Nealy said. "I need final approval from one of the churches to make that a permanent location."

In other action Monday, commissioners agreed to lease land at East Texas Regional Airport to JPI Aviation, which plans to build a new hangar. Commissioner Darryl Primo joined the unanimous vote after verifying the $507 annual lease, which works out to 12 cents a square foot, is in line with similar agreements.



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