WACO, Texas — The Waco City Council voted on Tuesday to authorize a 13-person committee that will provide community input as the city updates its district maps.
The Citizens Redistricting Advisory Committee and its members were all unanimously approved at a special council meeting Tuesday afternoon. The committee consists of people selected by the mayor and council members and it will meet over the course of the coming weeks to advise the council's redistricting efforts.
The district maps will be re-evaluated using new 2020 census data, something that is done every ten years. The new map for the city's five districts will be used in the November 2022 election, when the mayor and three city council seats are up for re-election.
"We wanted to create a higher level of community buy-in, and also a higher level of transparency as we go through the redistricting process," said council member Kelly Palmer, of District IV.
She said she carefully selected her two appointees.
"Clearly our population is much more diverse than our current five council members and so we wanted to be sure that all Wacoans are represented," Palmer said.
Mayor Meek selected a chairperson for the position, Jennifer Manning, and each council member nominated two others to the committee. All council members were given the opportunity to nominate community members to represent District II, which does not currently have a council representative after the sudden vacancy left by Hector Sabido.
The committee consists of the following members:
Chair: Jennifer Manning
At-Large: Elaine F. Botello, Connie Nichols
District I: Linda Lewis, Cris Houston
District II: Isabel Lozano, Benjamin "Benji" Gomez
District III: Pat Atkins, Kim Kazanas
District IV: Josh Caballero, Toni Herbert
District V: Jana Hixson, Curtis Cleveland
Meek thanked the new appointees to the committee for volunteering their time.
"Having good, qualified people on this committee is going to give our community the trust and support that they need in this process," Meek said.
The council hopes to approve a finalized map by January.