Thursday, March 1, 2012

Redistricting Musical Chairs

New Texas House district maps were published by the court this week. Maybe, finally, the redistricting fiasco handed Texans by the last Texas legislature is coming to a close.

After the jump, what it means for Richardson.

On the old map, most of Richardson lay in Texas House District 112, represented by Angie Chen Button. Where northern Richardson extends into Collin County, it was in District 67, represented by Jerry Madden. The newly approved map splits Richardson even more. Collin County is still in District 67, but much of Richardson west of US 75 and south of Belt Line Rd is now in District 102, represented by Stefani Carter. Good luck with that.

If you are in northeast Richardson, you're still in District 112, where Angie Chen Button is running for re-election. I prefer Button over Carter, but that's damning with faint praise. Button was the City of Garland's DART representative before winning her seat in the Texas House. In 2008, DART had a $900 million budget shortfall during Button's tenure on the DART audit committee, a shortfall that Button said had been building for years but that the audit committee (i.e., she herself) was shocked to discover only in 2008. That fiasco maybe should have been a warning to voters not to send her to Austin -- a warning missed.

The 2012 GOP primary for District 112 could turn out to be one of the more interesting in the state. In an announcement Monday, State Board of Education (SBOE) member George Clayton announced that he would not seek re-election to the SBOE, but would instead seek election to the Texas House District 112 seat held by Button.

Clayton is not your traditional politician. Without party support, Clayton won a huge upset over longtime SBOE member Geraldine "Tincy" Miller in the 2010 GOP primary for SBOE District 12. I did not support him at the time, but he served two years without making Texas education more of a national laughingstock than previous SBOE boards did, so my opposition to him has softened. I would have supported him in a rematch against Miller in 2012. And I'll probably support him in the GOP primary against Button. Button has been part of the disaster that is the current state budget. She wholeheartedly supported cutting the formula for public school funding in the last legislative session. Clayton is focused on improving public education in Texas by fixing standardized testing. I don't know his stance on school funding, but he can't be worse dealing with the funding fiasco than Button has been, can he? Funny how the word fiasco follows Button around wherever she goes.

One big loser in redistricting appears to be former District 102 representative Carol Kent. Based on an earlier map, she expected to run this year in District 107. This latest map shifts District 107 farther east and south. It looks like Kent might have to run in District 114, currently represented by longtime incumbent Will Hartnett. Hartnett is a heavy favorite for re-election. (Update: Hartnett is not seeking re-election. Instead, Kenneth Sheets, the current District 107 incumbent, is running in District 114.) Actually, I correct what I said. Kent isn't the big loser in this redistricting. Texans are. Kent was easily the best advocate for strong public education among all of the politicians mentioned in this article. Texas has been the poorer not having her voice in Austin these last two years.

Finally, a word of warning. This latest map is still officially an "interim" map. The Justice Department or other federal judges who have played parts in this saga might still have something to say. And even if the map stands for the 2012 election, there's nothing stopping the 2013 legislative session in Austin from redrawing the lines yet again.


Mark Steger said...

The clock is winding down on the filing deadline. As far as I can tell, Angie Chen Button has drawn no challenger in the GOP primary nor from the Democratic Party in the general election.

And Stefani Carter has drawn no challenger in the GOP primary, but she will have a Democratic challenger in the general election: Rich Hancock.

I've seen no word on Carol Kent's plans. She filed for District 107, but I believe the latest redistricting maps drew her out of that district.

But the clock is still ticking.

Mark Steger said...

Late on March 9, Carol Kent announced that she filed to run for State Representative in House District 114.