Ellis County Commissioners Court approves one card and files another

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A divided Ellis County Commissioners’ Court chose a new county commissioners constituency map at Tuesday’s regular bi-monthly meeting, and will reconsider the justice of the peace and gendarmerie district despite objections that the proposed original map removes the majority minority district that has been in place for years.

After an executive session to discuss legal issues, the court approved Plan A of the Commissioner’s Compound after rejecting a motion to approve Plan B, and voted to cast a vote on a new map of the precinct judicial until a special meeting Wednesday.

A new map proposal, dubbed Plan X, was first presented at Tuesday’s meeting. Plan X restores JP Precinct 3 as a majority minority neighborhood, comprising parts of Waxahachie and Ennis.

Betty Square Coleman, president of the Waxahachie branch of NAACP, told commissioners she felt the public was not involved in the redistribution process, especially with the JP precinct.

The original proposal changed the JP Precinct 3, which has been in place for over 30 years, from a district with a large number of minority voters to a long, narrow strip running north to south with fewer minorities.

“We are opposed, period, to the removal of this district of minority opportunity,” said Coleman. “A vote to dismantle this historic district (is) telling minority citizens that they have neither their place nor their voice in the county’s electoral process.”

Coleman also pointed out that because judicial bodies are not legislative, there is no constitutional requirement to balance their populations based on the 2020 U.S. Census numbers.

Kelly Blackburn, president of the Ellis County Democratic Party, addressed the court and complained about the speed at which the maps were being developed without notifying everyone involved in the process. His Republican counterpart, Randy Bellamy, also urged the court to slow down and let the general public study the new cards.

County Judge Todd Little responded by saying he believed the redistribution process was transparent, with two committee meetings and a public hearing held at the previous Commissioners Tribunal meeting on October 19, as well as the discussion of Tuesday and the publication of maps available.

David Mendez, a lawyer for Bickerstaff, Heath Delgado and Acosta LLP who was retained to help the county with the process, said the original plan only considered the general population. The new JP 3 district under Plan X adds 10,000 new citizens to equalize the number of cases, but remains a majority minority, Mendez said.

The Ellis County Commissioners Court approved this card for the new police stations by a 3-2 vote at Tuesday's meeting.  The new limits will take effect for the next 10 years from the March 2022 primaries.

Regarding police stations, Little and Precinct 3 commissioner Paul Perry favored Plan B, while Commissioners Randy Stinson, Lane Grayson and Kyle Butler favored Plan A, which won.

Several residents spoke in favor of plan B. This plan provided for only a 5.7% gap in the population among the four, while Plan A shows a gap of barely a quarter of a percent from the population. maximum allowed by the state of 10 percent, with only a few constituencies being redistributed.

Several speakers also noted that Plan A gerrymanders, Midlothian resident Louis Ponder out of Precinct 4, in which he intends to run for commissioner in 2022, ostensibly against Butler, and move his property into the Perry’s Pregnant 3.

Ponder, a leader of the 2019 referendum campaign to ban forced annexations in Ellis County, spoke in court at Tuesday’s meeting but avoided referring to it himself .

Bellamy, the county chairman of the GOP, added that the decision, while legal, was “improper” and for him “immoral”. The court ultimately approved this card anyway.

Mendez, the attorney, said the only minor change needed to each card was that the Ellis County Election Office on Jefferson Street in Waxahachie should be placed in the precinct of Commissioner 2. The commissioners made this correction. during the vote to approve plan A, without any residents. affected.

Other elements

• The court accepted a lengthy internal audit report from the Ellis County Tax Assessor / Collector’s Office. County auditor Janet Martin made a list of gaps found in the office that date back to 2002.

• Regarding JP districts, the court approved the purchase of a 4,245 acre property near Waxahachie High School for $ 389,000. The site will house the future offices of the justice of the peace and police officers. The property will eventually house the offices of Justice of the Peace # 2.

• The approved consent agenda included the approval of previous minutes, acceptance of various reports, a $ 12,000 work order under an interlocal agreement with Ennis to re-surf Lakeview Road and several transfers of budget items.

• Commissioners approved four courses on the south side of Eason Road near Ennis, on the east side of Union Hill Road near Ennis, on the south side of Palmyra Road near Palmer and on the west side of Bud Run Road in the Forreston area. A cul-de-sac that exceeds the maximum length requirement on the west side of FM 157 near Maypearl has been granted a single exemption.

• A purchase order with the Kitchell firm for the McKinstry energy saving performance project has been approved in the amount of $ 67,500 using American Rescue Plan Act funds.

• The purchase of two emulsion tanks in the amount of $ 142,856 for Cité 1; a street broom in the amount of $ 34,400 for Ward 3; and a lease for a total of 22 Chevrolet Tahoes for the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office have all been approved.

• The court also agreed to solicit bids for bottled water for emergency use and special events, and amended a contract with the NCIC Inmate Communications to include scanning and filtering of mail. inmates.

• The court approved, after two public hearings, the abandonment of part of Anthony Road and the installation of a stop sign on Boz Road at the intersection with Curry Road.

• Commissioners approved the 2022 County Retiree Medical and Dental Coverage Policy and authorized an agreement with the Texas Association of Counties to provide a group health care program for retirees over 65.

• After the executive session, the court voted to file a motion on nominating candidates for the Ellis Assessment District Board of Directors at its November 16 meeting.


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