5 precincts change districts
March 10, 2010
Beginning next year, voters in several Tampa City Council precincts will find themselves under new leadership, and not just because of the municipal elections.
On Monday, the Hillsborough Planning Commission approved redistricting changes that will move several precincts into other council districts.
Under the changes, Precinct 243 will move from District 7, which encompasses New Tampa and North Tampa and now is represented by Joseph Caetano, to District 6, which includes West Tampa and parts of downtown and now is represented by Charlie Miranda.
Precincts 155, 157, 164 and 165 will move from District 5, the city's mostly black district in East Tampa that is represented by Tom Scott, to District 4, which encompasses South Tampa and Davis Islands, now represented by John Dingfelder.
Exactly who will represent the districts after the elections remains to be seen. Caetano is running for re-election but faces a challenge from several candidates. Scott is running for mayor, and Dingfelder is running for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. Miranda hasn't declared his intentions. Several contenders have filed to run for seats representing all four single-member city council districts.
The planning commission redraws boundaries every four years to maintain nearly equal population in each district. Tampa has four single-member council districts. The other three council districts are citywide and won't be affected by the redistricting changes.
Under state law, council members do not approve the redistricting plan. Instead, the planning commission and Hillsborough supervisor of elections redraw the districts.
Now that the changes have been approved, the plans will be submitted to City Attorney Chip Fletcher, the elections supervisor and the U.S. Department of Justice for review.
Hillsborough is one of five counties in Florida monitored by the federal government since the 1960s because elections officials at the time didn't provide Spanish-language ballots despite the county's traditionally large Hispanic population.
As a result, the city and county must receive federal clearance before implementing new voting procedures such as merging stations or changing county and city districts.
The extra layer of electoral oversight stems from the voting rights law, enacted in 1965, that opened elections to millions of blacks and other minorities in the South.
The nonpartisan city elections are set for March 1.
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