The new city representative district boundary lines, which will stay in place for the next 10 years, should be finalized this week as the El Paso City Council is set to discuss and approve a final map on Monday or Tuesday. 

The city began its districting process in September when a Districting Commission was seated. The nine-member committee met several times and discussed various maps that were submitted by the public or drawn by a commission member.

The field of maps has been narrowed to three for final consideration.

One of the three maps up for discussion is Draft 8, which was submitted by the city’s Redistricting Commission and City Council did not make any changes to it.

The other two maps being considered are labeled Draft 7B and Draft 8B. Both maps were originally submitted by the commission but were heavily edited by city representatives who moved neighborhoods from one district to another.

The districting commission spent six months developing map recommendations and gathering community feedback to redraw the eight City Council district boundaries. Upon receiving the maps from the commission, city representatives immediately began making changes to the proposed boundaries over two separate hours-long meetings.

The move by council to redraw the commission boundaries drew public backlash during a special meeting April 14, where several members of the public spoke against the changes. 

Jesus Valdez, co-chair of the League of Women Voters El Paso Redistricting Committee, said the city commission’s work should be respected and not changed because their proposals were the product of many hours of listening to public testimony and learning how to create and refine maps.

“It was with great dismay that I saw City Council propose alternate maps constructed on the fly for the sole purpose of getting a particular objective without concern to reverse the gerrymandering of the current map and without regard to the effect on other districts without knowledge and awareness of all public testimony,” Valdez said.

Voting boundaries for elected officials are redrawn every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census Bureau decennial population data. The population of the city of El Paso in 2020 was 678,815, according to data released in August. The figure represents a 5% increase over the prior census in 2010, with most of that growth on the city’s Eastside.

Here are the details of the three maps that City Council will either adopt as presented Tuesday, or make changes to before voting on a final version. The goal is to have an average of 84,851 residents in each of the eight districts.

Commissioner Draft 8

Submitted by commission Vice-Chair Cynthia Renteria, who was appointed by city Rep. Cissy Lizarraga.

  • Incorporates community feedback collected during public comment, commission meetings and community meetings.
  • Separates Segundo Barrio and Upper Valley neighborhoods from District 1, which largely covers West El Paso.
  • Maintains South-Central and Central neighborhoods together in one district, recognizing the needs of the area are unique to the rest of the city.
  • Keeps nearby areas east of the Franklin Mountains together in Northeast El Paso.

The map splits four current precincts, one in the Northeast, one in the far Eastside and two in Central and the Lower Valley. The map had the third-highest approval by the Redistricting Commission.

Changes of note to existing district boundaries:

  • Removed portions of West El Paso from District 1, represented by city Rep. Peter Svarzbein.
  • Removed portions of Central El Paso from District 4, represented by city Rep. Joe Molinar.
  • Removed portions of South Central El Paso from District 8, represented by city Rep. Cissy Lizarraga.
  • Largely reversed District 2 from Central and East El Paso to areas covered by District 3 in Central El Paso and the Lower Valley. City Rep. Alexsandra Annello represents District 2 and city Rep. Cassandra Hernandez represents District 3.
  • Keeps the majority of the Lower Valley areas south of I-10.

City Council Draft 8B

City Council Draft 8B

Key revisions made by City Council to commissioner Draft 8:

  • Reversed the initial switch to the placement of Districts 2 and 3, which put Annello and Hernandez back in the areas they represent.
  • Added precincts into District 2 in Central El Paso, including Five Points, that were initially moved to District 8.
  • Added portions of South Central El Paso west of Highway 54 back into District 8.

City Council Draft 7B

City Council Draft 7B

The original version of the map, Commissioner Draft 7, was submitted by committee member Bob Burns, who was appointed by Mayor Oscar Leeser.

According to city documents, the map had the highest approval by the commissioners and the lowest deviation of 2.2% from the ideal per-district population of 84,851 — the map had nearly even populations across all of the districts.

The map had three precinct splits, one in the Northeast, one in Central and one in far East El Paso.

Key changes to districts:

  • Portions of West El Paso from Sunland Park Drive to East Redd Road would be removed from District 1 and placed in District 8.
  • Portions of South Central El Paso would be removed from District 8 east of Patriot Freeway.
  • Moved District 6 represented by city Rep. Claudia Rodriguez in Far East El Paso north of I-10.
  • Added portions of the Lower Valley to District 7 represented by city Rep. Henry Rivera.

Elida S. Perez is a longtime community and investigative reporter. Her experience includes work as city government watchdog reporter for the El Paso Times, investigative reporter for El Paso Newspaper...