With the 2020 census county-level demographics expected soon, Collier County commissioners on Tuesday approved the criteria to redraw the commission’s district boundaries.
County commissioners are required to recut after each decennial census. Districts must be contiguous and contain populations as close to equality as possible, according to the Florida constitution.
In addition, one of the five county commissioners must reside in each of the newly drawn districts.
No more news:Collier Commissioners Approve $ 15 Million Incentives For Great Wolf Lodge
Commissioners Collier about to vote on county bill of rights shrine ordinance
Also:Conservancy of Southwest Florida study tracks invasive python movements
Mike Bosi, the county’s planning and zoning director, said county staff will use the same criteria to redraw districts that were used in 2011 after the 2010 census.
The US Census Bureau estimates the population of Collier County in 2020 at 392,973 people, which is an increase of about 71,500 people from the 2010 population.
The county does not anticipate that the population increase has been evenly distributed among the five districts, which is why a redistribution is necessary.
“The redistribution process is undertaken so that each district has the most equal number of population, so that each vote has the same equal power,” Bosi said.
Fourth of July:Fireworks, festivals and more return to Fort Myers, Naples area
Once the final data is released in August, county staff will use criteria approved by commissioners on Tuesday to identify the necessary population adjustments that need to be made to each district.
The county will use four primary criteria and four secondary criteria to draw new district boundaries, Bosi said.
The main criteria aim to have districts with similar population sizes and compact and regular shaped boundaries. The residence of a commissioner must remain in his current constituency. Racial and ethnic populations must be taken into account under the 1956 Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits the denial or restriction of the right to vote on the basis of race, color or minority language status. Article 2 of the Voting Rights Law prohibits the creation of electoral districts which unduly dilute the voting power of minorities.
The secondary criteria call for rejecting any plan that reduces the voting power of minorities.
When not in conflict with other criteria, they also call for using easily recognizable boundaries such as main roads, maintaining current boundaries as much as possible and not dividing neighborhoods.
The new limits are also expected to apply to the five Collier County School Board seats that span the county.
County staff will ask the school board at its July 27 meeting to agree that the county board and school board will use the same district boundaries.
The county will ask school district support staff to assist with the redistribution efforts.
The Collier County Election Supervisor’s Office has also made its staff available to provide technical support during the process, according to the county.
A private sector law firm will provide an independent review of the county redistribution process and proposed final district boundaries, depending on the county.
After the county receives the data from the US Census Bureau, staff will work with representatives from the school district, the election office supervisor and the independent law firm to begin drawing district map projects, said. Bosi.
Data from the US Census Bureau is expected to arrive in mid-August.
Once the district map projects are drawn, county staff will engage with the cities of Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City and the public for feedback, Bosi said.
Seven community meetings will be held in October. One in each of the five districts will be held in November so the public can review draft maps and provide comment, Bosi said.
“In Collier County, we take this and we go out and we talk to the community,” Bosi said. “Anyone who wants to comment, anyone who wants to get involved, there will be an avenue.”
At least three draft district maps will be presented to the commissioners at the December 14 council meeting. The board will receive feedback from the public meetings and then select a final version.
Bosi praised the 2011 redistribution efforts to keep Commissioners out of the process until presented with draft maps and public comment.
“One unique aspect that I remember from the 2011 redistribution effort was that the commissioners were separated from the process because it could be seen as a political process,” said Bosi. “We see this as a personal one, we have the criteria that are in the executive summary, but it’s a math problem for us. It’s a math problem we’re trying to solve based on the principles of math and on the basis of these criteria. ”