Gilmer residents Jim Lacaze, far left, and Aida Lacaze, far right, get their photo taken with State Rep. District 7 Jay Dean and country music star Neal McCoy before the flag raising ceremony at Tempest Golf Club in western Gregg County on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.

With the release of the 2020 Census, the process of redistricting is beginning for many, including the Texas Statehouse.

In the first draft of the new Texas House Districts map, some representatives saw their districts change. State Rep. Jay Dean, who currently represents Gregg County and Upshur County, was among them.

“This is just a first pass of things,” Dean said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be the final product.”

The Texas Legislature is in its third special session, which is focused on the redistricting process. Beginning Tuesday, legislators will be debating the first map, Dean said.

The redistricting process happens every 10 years. From the 2010 Census each Texas House District consisted of about 170,000 to 175,000 constituents. With the 2020 data, each district will need to have about 194,000 constituents.

Meeting these new population requirements is done by looking at the map and thinking, “where can I go to find the additional 24,000 to meet the requirements of the size populations,” Dean said.

“We’re just trying to find population and figuring out how to put these districts together contiguously by county to make sure we have at least 194,000 people per district,” Dean said.

While population is a factor of redistricting, being contiguous is also an important aspect, he said. This played a part in Dean’s current situation — because at first look, if he represented Gregg, Harrison and Marion Counties, then he would meet the 194,000 population mark.

Dean currently represents Upshur County, which has a population of about 40,000; and Gregg County, which has a population of about 125,000. To continue representing both of these counties, he would need to gain additional population from somewhere else.

For this reason debate and changes will be taking place on Tuesday to decide the best course of action for each of the 150 Texas Representatives.

“We’ll debate the map and amendments will be made to change the map in certain situations,” Dean said. “It’s almost like a chess game or putting together a puzzle, but it’s based on population.”

The first draft of the redistricting map is not the final one, he said. There is still a lot to talk about and residents are encouraged to get involved by sharing their thoughts as well, he added.


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