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9001: Meeting hears voters fears that redistricting will harm (fwd)




From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>
Published Sunday, September 2, 2001

Meeting hears voters' fears that redistricting will harm
LIBERTY CITY

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BY DRAEGER MARTINEZ
drmartinez@herald.com

Concerns that the Miami-Dade County redistricting process will marginalize 
blacks -- or leave Haitian Americans and African Americans caught up in a 
power struggle -- welled up at a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the 
Joseph Caleb Center.

County-hired consultants explained to the audience the legal and demographic 
realities behind redistricting. Miami-Dade County posted a net growth of 
316,268 compared to the 1990 Census. But different districts grew at 
different rates: Some inner-city districts grew behind the county's pace and 
one registered a net loss of people, while other districts posted huge 
growth, particularly in West Miami-Dade.

Rudy Wilson, who in 1993 helped set the 13 current County Commission 
districts, said that redrawing the districts is necessary for political 
representation that's fair for all.

``We do want to keep communities of interest whole,'' Wilson said, referring 
to groups with common languages or socioeconomic backgrounds. ``In some 
cases, it can be simply party affiliation. Poverty can also constitute a 
community of interest. The factors vary for every district.''

Several residents at the meeting said they saw a need for greater black 
representation on the commission. Miami-Dade has four black county 
commissioners: Betty Ferguson, District 1; Dorrin Rolle, District 2; Barbara 
Carey-Shuler, District 3; and Dennis Moss, District 9.

``As a young Haitian American, we ask that you draw the maps so there are at 
least two Haitian-American districts,'' said Sandra Moreau, one of about 60 
people attending the meeting at the center, 5400 NW 22nd Ave.

Radio talk show host Herntz Phanord added: ``The Haitian Americans have 
emerged as a community of interest. Our community needs protection, too.''

Wilson said the process wouldn't be that simple.

``It's the consensus of the commission that it remains at 13 seats. And 
there's not a framework for setting seats by [nationality],'' Wilson said.

Others in the audience advised putting those differences aside. Theodore 
James Marshall drew lengthy applause by noting that any added districts 
would likely have Hispanic voter bases.

``I wonder if the Haitian-American groups will get together and speak up to 
the commission about where to draw the lines,'' said Marshall, who is white. 
``If they don't, people from Hispanic districts will get shifted over into 
your districts. Don't argue between Haitian American and African American -- 
that's a fight for another day.''

County officials said the first version of redrawn district lines is to be 
unveiled Friday at the County Commission Chamber, Stephen P. Clark 
Government Center, 111 NW First St., second floor.







 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miami.com/herald

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