Overview of Houston City Council Districts

Overview of Houston City Council Districts

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(in the process of being edited from the initial post on GregsOpinion.com)

The newly-created map of 11 single-member districts for the City of Houston consists of three reliably-Republican districts, two reliably African-American districts, two reliably Hispanic districts, one district that will have a functioning African-American voting majority at the outset of the decade, and three districts where the electorate is more of an open question.

Those open questions may go a long way toward determining the ideological and demographic makeup of council. District C is a revision of the current GOP-leaning District C. It should tilt more in favor of progressive Anglo candidates throughout the decade, but Houston's odd-year election cycle is always capable of presenting a surprise. Former State Representative Ellen Cohen is the leading challenger for the open seat, making the district effectively a progressive district for the duration of her service. District J was sold as a "Hispanic Opportunity District" despite the well-known lack of citizenship among Hispanics in the area. Electorally, it is an Anglo district. What's less known is how well an Anglo Republican candidate would do in such a district since there isn't one running this cycle. That should allow the leading challenger, Mike Laster, to better define the district if he is, indeed, elected. With that, District J is effectively a progressive district for the duration of his service. District F is the only one of these three districts represented by an incumbent. Al Hoang is likely to win re-election in the redrawn district, but the demographic and economic shape of the district suggests that it is possible for an Anglo Republican to be elected in the district.

Taken together, all of the city's districts should be winnable by no more than 3-4 conservative leaning districts (A, E, F, & G), with the outside possibility of a fifth conservative district in J. Given the hold that progressive/Democratic-leaning candidates have in the At Large districts, this should continue the current direction of city governance for another decade.

The 2001-era city council map ended the decade with only one district (G) being majority-Anglo. The 2011-era city council map begins the decade with three Anglo majority districts (C, E, and G). By the end of the decade, District E will be minority-majority while still retaining a Citizen Voting Age majority among Anglos. In part, this is due to the shrinking of district sizes as council expands from 9 to 11 single member districts and the creation of a new "Anglo Dem" district (C).


District A

(map)

District A is still centered primarily on Spring Branch and it’s still an Anglo-dominated district in city elections. The biggest change in the redistricting process was the removal of Oak Forest from the northeastern part of the district and Lazybook/Timbergrove from the eastern portion. The district is capable of changing voting patterns over the span of the coming decade. This was seen in part with the 2009 election that sent conservative realtor Brenda Stardig into a runoff with the progressive Democrat Lane Lewis. Any change should be gradual, but this district could have a council election to watch in 2015.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   198,481  112,607 (56.7%)   25,430 (12.8%)   48,437 (24.4%)   9,334 ( 4.7%)
VAP   143,039   73,566 (51.4%)   18,255 (12.8%)   41,934 (29.3%)   7,607 ( 5.3%)
CVAP   85,005   21,480 (25.3%)   17,160 (20.2%)   41,584 (48.9%)   4,084 ( 4.8%)
RV     66,685   13,167 (19.8%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  3,266 (23.9%)  3,986 (29.1%)   4,313 (31.5%)   1,933 (14.1%)  13,691   20.5%
RO-09                                 6,285 (58.4%)   4,473 (41.6%)  10,758

District B

(map)

District B sheds some of it’s Hispanic population in the the bridge area between Fifth Ward and Acres Homes. The district was effectively controlled by African-American voters before and it will be moreso in the future.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   190,690   76,889 (40.3%)  101,681 (53.3%)    9,006 ( 4.7%)   1,231 ( 0.7%)
VAP   134,552   48,616 (36.1%)   75,861 (56.4%)    7,791 ( 5.8%)   1,026 ( 0.8%)
CVAP   97,105   17,649 (18.2%)   68,735 (70.8%)    9,089 ( 9.4%)   1,120 ( 1.2%)
RV     94,482   10,236 (10.8%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  2,773 (20.7%)    497 ( 3.7%)   1,314 ( 9.8%)   8,761 (65.3%)  13,425   14.1%
RO-09                                 2,080 (15.8%)  11,110 (84.2%)  13,190

District C

(map)

District C is the winner for “Most Altered” due to the amount of geographic change as well as the nature of the electorate. In the initial proposal for council districts, the area started off as District K. Politically speaking, the district shifts from being a moderate-to-conservative district situated around the southwestern part of town to one that will likely be more reliably liberal over the course of the decade with the district boundaries more closely including the city's core of "Anglo Dem" voters. Among the biggest electoral changes is the addition of the Montrose area into the district.

The upcoming election contest will be highlighted by former State Rep. Ellen Cohen. But Cohen will have to become better known to voters north of I-10, where she’s never run for office. And since the Heights is changing in different ways than the rest of Harris County and has its own distinct brand of identity politics, it will be interesting to see how the two halves of the district get along now that they’re thrown together. It could very well be that splits may emerge as they did in the current District H between the Heights and the near Northside.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   198,845   48,797 (24.5%)   13,926 ( 7.0%)  119,328 (60.0%)  12,828 ( 6.5%)
VAP   166,860   36,240 (21.7%)   10,866 ( 6.5%)  105,820 (63.4%)  11,132 ( 6.7%)
CVAP  153,105   24,838 (16.2%)   11,896 ( 7.8%)  108,295 (70.7%)   6,398 ( 4.2%)
RV    120,880   12,136 (10.0%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  6,308 (19.6%)  5,763 (17.9%)  16,390 (50.9%)   3,471 (10.8%)  32,178   26.7%
RO-09                                22,710 (78.2%)   6,321 (21.8%)  29,031

District D

(map)

District D remains a south-side African-American district. That’s made marginally easier since it loses the more Anglo Montrose neighborhood and sheds some of the mixed Black/Brown areas to the southwest. More specifically, the district is more electorally defined by the Sunnyside neighborhood.

But the district only gains a few points in African-American population over the 2001-era map. What it gains is the Myakawa Tail to the southeast of Sunnyside. That area is majority-Hispanic at both the Total Pop. and VAP level and 41% Hispanic at the CVAP level. It is roughly a quarter of the district in terms of population. The difference doesn’t seem like it’s enough to alter an election in a significant way for this decade. But it will likely continue trending more Hispanic and possibly make more sense to attach to District I during next decade's redistricting.

By this time next decade, we may be looking at a District D that is under 50% African-American. The fact that many current African-American districts are of a total population plurality and CVAP majority is something that may be seen in more African-American districts in Houston. The impact that has on either the electorate and/or representation of such districts is something to watch for.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   192,932   50,562 (26.2%)  105,752 (54.8%)   23,420 (12.1%)  10,455 ( 5.4%)
VAP   144,726   32,749 (22.6%)   80,102 (55.4%)   21,058 (14.6%)   8,914 ( 6.2%)
CVAP  117,505   16,996 (14.5%)   76,385 (65.0%)   19,637 (16.7%)   3,928 ( 3.3%)
RV    107,384    9,151 ( 8.5%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  3,849 (21.3%)  1,007 ( 5.6%)   2,651 (14.7%)  10,472 (57.9%)  18,089   16.8%
RO-09                                 3,689 (21.6%)  13,355 (78.4%)  17,044

District E

(map)

Once more, the Kingwood-to-Clear Lake connection is left intact. This will likely remain the case unless council goes to a 16 single-member district format. As such, the district joins A and B as one of the more fundamentally unchanged districts from the last decade. Considering the high share of Anglo voters, it should remain as politically target-rich for conservative candidates as it always has.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   197,870   67,058 (33.9%)   13,442 ( 6.8%)  101,797 (51.5%)  11,947 ( 6.0%)
VAP   143,017   42,951 (30.0%)    9,532 ( 6.7%)   79,306 (55.5%)   9,103 ( 6.4%)
CVAP  128,970   24,445 (19.3%)    8,170 ( 6.4%)   88,330 (69.6%)   6,600 ( 5.2%)
RV     99,692   13,642 (13.7%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  4,886 (25.0%)  7,439 (38.0%)   5,101 (26.1%)   1,902 ( 9.7%)  19,581   19.5%
RO-09                                 8,789 (61.0%)   5,615 (39.0%)  14,404

District F

(map)

District F represents the biggest geographic change in a district where the incumbent has to run for re-election. The new distric even raises the Asian population share from 14% of Total Population in 2010 to a district that is now 16% Asian. But the new District F has substituted non-citizen population and low-propensity, apartment-dwelling voters for high-propensity voting Anglos on Houston's west side.

The unfortunate reality of how 2 different Asian candidates have been elected to the current District F despite Asians being only the third largest demographic group was due to the current F’s status as a "hollow" district with a large number of constituents ineligible to vote. The fact that the Citizen Voting Age Population share of Asians is lower than both the Voting Age Population share is telling and there is a distinct possibility that Al Hoang could be the last Asian-American Council Member elected from District F as a result. With two terms remaining, Hoang should be fine for his own re-election due to the advantages of incumbency.

Another point about the district is that it’s presently term-limited at the same time as the Mayor's tenure. That could mean that the 34% African-American Citizen Voting Age Population could have a greater impact during open contest. Whether an African-American candidate can emerge with enough crossover appeal to reach a majority or merely just plays the spoiler remains to be seen. The likelier scenario for the second half of the decade is that Anglos from either Royal Oaks or Briarmeadow neighborhoods realize the math of this district and a candidate emerges from either.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   181,886   75,548 (41.5%)   44,718 (24.6%)   28,143 (15.5%)  29,723 (16.3%)
VAP   133,770   50,922 (38.1%)   31,932 (23.9%)   24,359 (18.2%)  24,068 (18.0%)
CVAP   85,490   18,310 (21.4%)   28,720 (33.6%)   24,860 (29.1%)  12,745 (14.9%)
RV     63,244    9,422 (14.9%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  2,420 (28.8%)  1,714 (20.4%)   2,184 (26.0%)   1,942 (23.1%)   8,411   13.7%
RO-09                                 4,148 (51.6%)   3,883 (48.4%)   8,031

District G

(map)

The GOP-friendly voters stretching from the River Oaks Country Club toward Highway 6 aren't going to go anywhere anytime soon. So it remains as the most target-rich environment for conservative westside candidates. Worth putting in the back of your mind, however, is this bit of math: the 2001-era District G went from 66.5% Anglo to 50.9% Anglo between 2000 and 2010. This version of G starts off as 60.8%. While the demographic trends of the last decade were fueled by two phenomena that have since abated - immigration new home construction - there is still an outside possibility that Houston's quintessential GOP-friendly district will join the ranks of majority-minority by the end of the decade.

The electoral impact of this change, however, should be negligible over the course of the decade. District G, along with the Kingwood-to-Clear Lake District E should continue to send reliably conservative members of council to City Hall throughout the decade.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   198,015   33,464 (16.9%)   20,088 (10.1%)  120,365 (60.8%)  19,580 ( 9.9%)
VAP   160,524   24,888 (15.5%)   15,331 ( 9.6%)  101,513 (63.2%)  15,696 ( 9.8%)
CVAP  140,945   13,688 (10.1%)   11,930 ( 8.8%)  106,770 (78.4%)   7,250 ( 5.3%)
RV    110,936    5,666 ( 5.1%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  6,914 (22.3%)  9,358 (30.2%)  10,259 (33.1%)   4,269 (13.8%)  31,022   27.9%
RO-09                                16,159 (66.5%)   8,133 (33.5%)  24,292

District H

(map)

After the 2001 districts were drawn, population projections were suggesting that District H was gaining in Hispanic population. But when the 2010 Census came out, the reality showed a very rare increase in terms of Anglo population as a share of the district. Where projections had shown the district going from 66% to 74% Hispanic, the district actually fell to 63% Hispanic. The increase in Council districts help in that District H loses the Heights, which is the core of the Anglo increase.

The new District H also picks up the remainder of Denver Harbor that had been in District I previously. Together, these changes mean that we aren't as likely to see a re-run of a race like Welsh v Gonzalez in the 2009 District H Special Election. The district will be far more reliably Hispanic from here on out. The balance of voter strength still resides on the northside of the district, so it’s very likely that the district will continue to crank out candidates from Lindale Park. But Denver Harbor is a very well-organized area, so it will be worth watching to see how regional differences play out once the seat becomes open.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   181,670  129,000 (71.0%)   26,355 (14.5%)   23,814 (13.1%)   1,199 ( 0.7%)
VAP   131,825   87,301 (66.2%)   20,925 (15.9%)   21,619 (16.4%)   1,061 ( 0.8%)
CVAP   91,360   47,655 (52.2%)   18,923 (20.7%)   23,630 (25.9%)     784 ( 0.9%)
RV     70,019   31,821 (45.4%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  2,256 (23.8%)  1,522 (16.0%)   3,219 (33.9%)   2,370 (25.0%)   9,491   13.9%
RO-09                                 4,769 (54.7%)   3,943 (45.3%)   8,712

District I

(map)

Over the course of the last decade, District I was the lone district to have a net population loss. With council expanding from 9 to 11 members, the net effect of this was that the district would experience very little change. The primary change that results in the district is that it loses Denver Harbor. There’s also a bit of turf-shaving outside of downtown, as well. But the district doesn’t change in any fundamental way. It’s easily the most Hispanic district in town, just with a power base that shifts slightly to the south.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   180,912  139,534 (77.1%)   21,381 (11.8%)   14,683 ( 8.1%)   3,761 ( 2.1%)
VAP   127,144   93,558 (73.6%)   16,106 (12.7%)   13,333 (10.5%)   2,986 ( 2.4%)
CVAP   77,235   45,914 (59.4%)   14,970 (19.4%)   13,985 (18.1%)   1,813 ( 2.3%)
RV     61,035   29,112 (47.7%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  1,881 (23.7%)  1,439 (18.1%)   2,250 (28.3%)   2,259 (28.4%)   7,948   13.2%
RO-09                                 3,655 (50.2%)   3,625 (49.8%)   7,280

District J

(map)

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   181,415  114,532 (63.1%)   32,215 (17.8%)   19,409 (10.7%)  12,946 ( 7.1%)
VAP   128,813   76,434 (59.3%)   23,174 (18.0%)   16,947 (13.2%)  10,728 ( 8.3%)
CVAP   55,150   13,939 (25.3%)   18,545 (33.6%)   16,995 (30.8%)   5,245 ( 9.5%)
RV     44,722    7,717 (17.3%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  1,753 (27.6%)  1,240 (19.5%)   1,907 (30.1%)   1,320 (20.8%)   6,346   13.7%
RO-09                                 3,095 (54.3%)   2,601 (45.7%)   5,696

District K

(map)

For once, the Fort Bend County portion of Houston has a bigger say in a council district election. While that area stands out as a prominent feature of the district, however, only 17% of the Voting Age Population resides in Fort Bend. What may be more noticeable with this district over time is the way that the demographic trends among southwest Houston’s African-American and Hispanic population affect the district’s representation. By and large, the African-American population in Houston has stagnated in the last decade while the Hispanic population has grown for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is due to the new home construction boomlet along the city’s southern edges. That boomlet is cooling in recent years, but there is still open space to develop. For now, the African-American population in this district has the numbers and the political organization.

The Citizen Voting Age Population numbers here are informative of how a district that is ostensibly drawn to be minority-majority will effectively become an African-American district. Given the slim African-American majority in the CVAP counts, it will be worth comparing heavy-turnout and low-turnout elections to see how the electorate in this district changes. A review of the 2007 and 2009 cycles suggests that the district can turn out Anglo voters in the district's central north area at a higher rate during contested Mayoral elections.

Demographics

       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tot   196,735   71,677 (36.4%)   80,968 (41.2%)   29,499 (15.0%)  11,855 ( 6.0%)
VAP   142,157   46,128 (32.5%)   59,272 (41.7%)   25,179 (17.7%)   9,856 ( 6.9%)
CVAP  107,410   18,770 (17.5%)   54,860 (51.1%)   28,165 (26.2%)   4,655 ( 4.3%)
RV     75,070    9,123 (12.2%)

2009 Election Results

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE-09  3,619 (20.5%)  1,976 (11.2%)   4,672 (26.4%)   7,295 (41.2%)  17,695   19.5%
RO-09                                 6,783 (39.4%)  10,424 (60.6%)  17,207


Council Map