BCC, School Board reach tentative agreement on redistricting

The Escambia County School Board and the Board of County Commissioners held a workshop yesterday afternoon to discuss how to redraw the boundaries for their five districts. All attended, except for Commissioner Doug Underhill.

Commissioner Jeff Bergosh said on 1370 WCOA this morning the two bodies reached an agreement on the new boundaries, but he expects Underhill to dispute some the changes recommended for his district.

“District 5 and District 4 got it kicked off,” said Bergosh. “There was one precinct, I believe, it’s number 88 in District 5, that’s south of 9 Mile Road, and that was an immediate give back to District 4. That kind of solved the issue for District 5. They shook hands, and I think they were good to go.”

He continued, “Then District 4 was a little heavy and so they had to give a little bit to District 3. District 3 was still light in terms of the minority-majority population, which they have to maintain under the court order, so a large portion of District 2, all of Mayfair, had to go over to Commissioner May’s district, and he had to actually give up a little bit of downtown to improve his percentage of minority-majority.”

The two districts left to reconfigure were Bergosh’s District 1 and Underhill’s District 2.

“Because Doug wasn’t there, I remember that he had said he was fine with Mayfair going to Luman. He felt like that was good. That was something that happened. He also felt like Myrtle Grove needed to be one community again, which I agreed with,” recapped Bergosh.

“In his absence, we just went with my plan and kind of put it out there. We essentially give back to Doug and District 2, all of precinct 99, which gives all of Myrtle Grove back to District 2, which was a good thing to do. We’re given most of Precinct 75, which is a west-end precinct, and all of Precinct 61 from D1 to D2.”

He explained an effort was made to reunite communities in the southwest part of the county that “were sliced in half by some gerrymandering that happened in 2001 with W.D. Childers, and putting those back in District 1.”

Bergosh added, “The move included a sizeable portion of Precinct 105, which is most of Perdido Key. When that’s all said and done, all the five districts balanced. I anticipate bringing that proposal to our Nov. 2nd meeting.”

On the absent the commissioner, he said, “I anticipate there will be significant disagreement by commissioner Underhill, but he didn’t show up for the meeting yesterday. I don’t know that he’ll have a lot of support for anything he wants to do, which included taking some of my precincts, which would’ve knocked sitting elected officials out of their seats.”


1 thought on “BCC, School Board reach tentative agreement on redistricting

  1. All the above totally makes John Peacock’s strong case for an independent redistricting commission. Inweekly could conduct a poll of likely voters in Beulah and ask them if they feel they have more in common with the people living in Cantonment and Molino (District 5) or with Perdido Key (District 1). A saving grace is that in 2023 the new commission which will have at least one, and maybe two new commissioners, and under state law “can” create an independent redistricting commission to hold town hall meetings and find out who feels best connected to whom. The BOCC can redistrict the districts this time using the 2020 census data. It would be funny if the new BOCC redistricted the election boundaries in 2023 and Jeff Bergosh found himself living in a new District 5. There are three very obvious problems with the shameful stuff now being done to undermine our democracy. First, the BOCC does not seem to be using the 2020 census data as required by state law. In the forthcoming PNJ story, Bergosh says that the lines are being redrawn based on anticipated future population numbers. Imaginary numbers?
    Is that really legal? Don’t ask David Stafford. He’s not a lawyer. I heard him tell the BOCC that in September. However, if the Attorney General were asked, she is a lawyer, she might slap down the BOCC’s gerrymandering scheme on constitutional grounds. The Florida Constitution requires that county election districts must be contiguous. Right now, they are not. Am I the only one who has noticed? Pensacola Beach is not contiguous to District 4. It is contiguous to the current District 1. A very strong swimmer can swim from Fort Pickens to the nearest point on the Escambia County mainland which is in District 1. Right now, the City of Gulf Breeze and Santa Rosa County divide District 4 in half. That can’t possibly be legal. In 2014, Stafford told Gary Sansing, who told me, that the county election districts were gerrymandered to protect the incumbents. Here we go again. I’m pretty sure that the BOCC didn’t read or pay attention to the Florida Association of Counties presentation on redistricting. It six times mentions the word “contiguous” even quoting directly from the Florida Constitution. Florida Statutes several time define and explain the word contiguous. It’s not rocket science. (I was a geography major in college with an emphasis on cartography.) The FAC presentation also includes this sentence, “Contiguity may be maintained via waterbody.” There you go. Hopefully someone with deep pockets like Peacock & Friends will file a lawsuit just over the contiguous issue. There’s no subjectivity there, it’s the law. The FAC presentation also emphasizes the importance of keeping “communities of interest together.” It specifically mentions “cities.” All of Century is being kept in a single district. Why not the City of Pensacola too? The population of the City of Pensacola is far “less” than the ideal district size. All of the city should be in a single district. Since 2017, Commissioner May has been a city resident. Call the new district that includes all of the City of Pensacola – “District 3.”

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