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Redistricting can be a ‘mixed bag’ for Lehigh Acres

Guest Commentary

December 8, 2011
By MIKE WELCH , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Every ten years the Florida Legislature redraws the district maps for Congressional, as well as for the Florida State Senate and the Florida State House of Representatives. The process is ordered pursuant to the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution once the 10 year census is completed.

This year Florida boasts more than 18 million residents and now picks up two more congressional seats. Congressional, State House and Senate seats have to be evened out population-wise so that no district is drastically uneven population

Last Monday the Florida Senate released its proposal for redistricting of Congressional and State Senate districts. It has not to date released its proposal for Florida State House districts. The Florida House of Representatives has not to date released its proposals for Congressional, State Senate or State House districts. However the Florida Senate does provide a blueprint for its own districts and for Congressional Districts.

Article Photos

Mike Welch

Taking a look at Lehigh Acres.

Presently Lehigh Acres is represented in the Florida Senate by two districts, District 27 that stretches from Palm Beach County to Bonita Springs as well as District 21 that stretches from Bradenton to Cape Coral and over to Lehigh. The Senate proposal will now include all of Lehigh Acres into Senate District 27 that includes most of the county excluding Cape Coral and the Lee Islands coastline. This new district then heads north taking some 33,000 residents of Charlotte County.

The Senate's Congressional Plan places Lehigh Acres into a large, mainly inland district that stretches form Lehigh Acres to most of Charlotte County and includes parts of Glades, Desoto, Highlands, Okeechobee, Hardee, Hillsborough and Polk counties. The present incumbent Congressman is Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland).

The remaining parts of Lee County as well as Coastal Collier County remains in what we know today at Congressional District 14.

For those of us who would like to see a State Senator resident in Lee County the Senate plan addresses that. However, the Senate Plan for Congressional seats takes inland Lee County (basically Lehigh) and places it in this "mega-district."

The process is far from over.

This is the Senate Plan so far. We need to see the House's plan.

There will be a review process with the state and federal courts. You can still have your voice heard by contacting your state senators and representatives.

Mike Welch lives in Lehigh and was a former aide to State Sen. Tom Rossin. He is also a member of the board of commissioners of the East County Water Control District. Ed.



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