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Don't split Brazos County between districts

Don't split Brazos County between districts

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It’s still early in the redistricting game, but preliminary congressional district maps released by the Texas Senate don’t bode well for Brazos County.

Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a census of who lives where. Congressional districts are based on the information gleaned from the Census. The goal is to make every House of Representatives district roughly equal in size.

How states do that is subject to controversy every time. The party in power does its best to draw lines that will elect as many members of that party as possible. The minority party invariably cries foul and, quite often, files suit in federal courts to change the district boundary lines.

Because the state’s population has boomed over the past decade, Texas is picking up two congressional districts, for a total of 38.

The first proposed congressional district map splits Brazos County into two districts, and while at first glance that may look like good news, it really isn’t.

Under the proposed plan, part of Bryan would remain in District 17, but most of the county — including some parts of Bryan and all College Station, would move to District 10.

Yes, we would have two congressmen, but the voice of both cities would be weakened, less effective under the plan.

District 10 as proposed would include Austin, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Grimes, Lee, Madison, Waller and Washington counties, plus portions of Bastrop, Brazos and Walker counties.

District 17 — our current district — would include Angelina, Falls, Houston, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Nacogdoches, Robertson and Trinity counties and portions of Brazos, Cherokee and Williamson counties.

Bryan and College Station may be two separate cities, with separate school districts, but we are one community. What benefits one benefits us all. What hurts one hurts us all.

When we dine out or shop or take in an entertainment venue, we don’t think about which city is home to the businesses we choose.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t occasional frictions between the two cities, but, for the most part, we are able to work through those issues.

As one community, we must speak with one voice in the halls of Congress. Not only do we speak for ourself, but we include our good neighbors in the surrounding counties, all of which look to Bryan-College Station as the major focus of shopping, health care and entertainment.

By splitting the county in two, the redistricting makes it harder to elect a representative from either Bryan or College Station. For years, we enjoyed having Bryan resident Bill Flores represent all of us in Congress. Of course, he had to represent all the residents of District 17, but he had a greater feel for the people of Brazos County than a representative living in Waco or the Austin area.

It isn’t only congressional districts that must be redrawn every 10 years. State House and Senate districts also must be reconfigured based on population growth.

The proposed Texas House District 10 would include Grimes, Madison, Robertson, Walker and Washington counties, as well as most of Brazos County. District 14 would be virtually unchanged, encompassing most of Bryan.

Under the early plan, Texas Senate District 5 would include Bastrop, Brazos, Freestone, Houston, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson and Walker counties, as well as most of Williamson County.

Locally, Brazos County precincts, city council and school district boundaries also will be redrawn.

We urge all our readers to examine the proposed boundaries at every level of government and let those in charge of redrawing the lines know if you like or don’t like the dividing lines. It isn’t too late to demand that Brazos County be united in one congressional district — preferably one with College Station and Bryan as the main focus of the district.

We are too important to be split in two.

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