SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota City Commission is hoping to get ahead of the curve on possible redistricting within city limits.
When the 2020 Census is complete, the City of Sarasota may need to redistrict, depending on the population numbers.
One community activist is urging commissioners to start considering this possibility now. The community activist, who goes by R.N., said he wants the city to avoid the controversy Sarasota County Commissioners have caused with their redistricting.
R.N. explains that the County Commission’s recent decision to redraw their boundaries came with “accusations of flawed data, dirty tricks, and voting power dilution that fueled a wide-spread suspicion that it was motivated by self-interest.”
This is why he’s asking the City Commission to take the necessary steps to plan now, in case they do decide to redraw the districts in Sarasota after the 2020 Census.
R.N. wrote a letter to the Commission suggesting that they use standards for redistricting found in the Florida constitution. One of the stated contingencies is that boundaries may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party.
Districts are also prohibited from denying racial or language minorities the opportunity to vote.
“Sometimes, we in the city tend to have these issues where they get very controversial and if we can get ahead of them and reduce the conflict and increase the conversation and the civility of it all, I think it’s a step in the right direction," said Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch.
The constitution also requires districts to be contiguous, or sharing a common border and as equal in population as possible.