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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Oklahoma legislators released a set of newly proposed legislative and congressional district maps on Nov. 1 drawing mixed reactions especially from those on the south side of Oklahoma City.

When the new congressional districts were drawn, south Oklahoma City ended up on the receiving end of the most obvious gerrymandering in the state for the next ten years.

Southside Cityans, now in CD-5 that represents most of the City, will soon find themselves in the same congressional district with people in western Oklahoma and the Panhandle.

And two legislators closest to southside voters are angry at the obvious congressional district gerrymandering calling it “a setback” for the heavily Hispanic south side and “one more way that our vote is being diluted.”

But, those same legislators are pleased that southside House and Senate districts will be more compact focusing on the population of that part of the City.

Reaction to CD-5 redistricting

“This is one more way that our vote is being diluted,” José Cruz said about the CD-5 redistricting that will place most of the Hispanic south side of Oklahoma City into CD-3, a mostly rural district that includes the Panhandle. “So if it was hard for us to be heard before, it’s going to be much harder now.”

Cruz is the representative for HD-89 that covers the near southwest corner of the City including the Stockyards and “La 29” or S.W. 29th.

And, Senator Michael Brooks-Jimenez, SD-44, was upset with the congressional district changes, too.

congressional redistricting
Detail of the southside OKC carve-out for CD3. (screenshot from Oklahoma Legislature interactive map)

“I have grave concerns when the fastest growing and in my opinion, most vibrant parts of Oklahoma City’s urban core are being marginalized,” said Brooks-Jimenez. “While it’s true that three Congressmen have traditionally represented CD-5, this incursion is a setback to uniting the urban core that exists both north and south of the river.”

At the meeting of the Capitol Hill Civic Group Thursday morning, Representative Forrest Bennett, HD-92 that covers from the near southeast side of OKC up to the Fairgrounds at May and N.W. 10th, expressed frustration and concern with the new CD-3 map even though his House District will stay somewhat the same.

He said that the southside of OKC was being isolated once again from the rest of the metro, repeating the old divisions that leaders in OKC had long struggled to overcome.

Losing “fair representation”

Cruz said splitting the Hispanic residents of southside Oklahoma City from CD-5 will diminish the little chance of fair representation the community had.

Representative Jose Cruz, D-Oklahoma City, HD-89

The Hispanic community is the largest minority community in Oklahoma County, representing 19.3% of the total population according to the Census data.

“It drives home that decades-old feeling that South Oklahoma City residents have that we’re not important and that we don’t matter,” Rep. Jose Cruz said during an interview with the Free Press. “So when you cut us out of representation that we deserve… and put us out in a congressional district that is mostly rural, it’s hard not to feel left out again.”

As far as the redistricting process, Cruz says there was transparency present when redistricting in the House and Senate maps, but it wasn’t there for congressional maps.

Southside House and Senate Districts

Cruz will see some slight differences in compactness under the proposed legislative map for his district. HD-89 will expand from 8 to 11 miles which will increase the number of constituents in the district by nearly five thousand people.

The district will remain a majority-minority district, with a population of 68 percent Hispanic origin.

Senate District 44, represented by Sen. Michael Brooks-Jimenez, will be greatly reduced in size under the new maps and will no longer include parts of Yukon or Mustang. The district will become a majority-minority district and contain more of the urban core of southwest OKC.

Follow this link for an interactive map of the new Oklahoma Legislature districts.

“I’m going to miss the constituents that I’ve been able to build relationships with over in Canadian County,” Sen. Brooks-Jimenez said. “But at the same time, I’m excited to have district 44 go back to where it kind of was, which was traditionally south side of Oklahoma City.”

Special session 2021

The Oklahoma Legislature will vote on the new maps in a special session Monday, Nov. 15 to establish the congressional and legislative redistricting plans for the next 10 years.

Similar to any other legislative bill, the proposals will receive committee and floor votes. The plans must pass by both legislative chambers and be signed by the governor to become law.

Members of the Oklahoma House State and Federal Redistricting Committee listened to presentations of previously-submitted maps by those who submitted them April 15, 2021. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Oklahoma lawmakers made modifications to the recently passed legislative maps after the release of the latest 2020 Census data showed more population growth in the metro areas than previously estimated.

The proposed congressional maps show major changes to the competitive 5th congressional district.

The plan will cut out a large portion of the heavily Hispanic southside Oklahoma City from CD-5 making it a part of the mostly-rural Congressional district 3.

The proposed maps would also add more rural and heavily-Republican areas to CD-5, including Lincoln County and parts of Logan and Canadian County.

All incumbents will remain in their legislative and congressional districts.

There is no deadline for congressional map redistricting.

Elections 2022

Beginning in 2022, the newly enacted districts will be used to conduct elections.

The primary election, which will be held on June 28, 2022, will be the first election to use the new district boundaries for House, Senate, and Congressional districts.

Last Updated November 9, 2021, 7:05 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor