Walker County is taking it in the teeth from the Texas legislature.
After weeks of negotiations, state lawmakers released committee recommendations for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Texas House of Representatives with one goal in mind — keeping the Republican party in power amid large demographic shifts.
Under current proposals, the largely rural county of 76,400 will see its federal representation split. The southern part of Walker County, including the city of New Waverly, will remain part of House District 8. Meanwhile, the northern half of the county, including the city of Huntsville and Riverside, will become a part of a make-shift District 10 that spans nearly 200 miles and is currently led by Republican Michael McCaul of Austin.
How does this make any sense?
Republican lawmakers, desperate to maintain seats in a state where demographics are quickly shifting, have decided to throw rural counties that border metro centers onto the chopping block. Because of this, they have effectively hacked apart once cohesive districts to tip balances in other districts.
If this plan is finalized in the legislature then Walker County will all but lose its voice in Washington.
The legislature’s treatment — actions that speak louder than stump speeches — betrays an overall devaluation of the voices of voters in rural communities by lawmakers who appear bent on ensuring the political scales tip in their favor.
Walker County has been blessed under the leadership of District 8 Congressman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands).
Whether you agree with his political stance or not, Brady has been extremely active in Walker County and a frequent visitor at many community events.
That will likely be all but lost.
According to the proposal, 22% of the Walker County population (16,681) will be a part of District 8 and 78% of the population will be part of District 10 (59,719). Both districts have a total population of 766,987. District 10 is made up of 14 Texas counties and District 8 is made up of five.
To make things even worse, Walker County will likely experience a change in representation within the Texas House of Representatives.
Current State Rep. Ernest Bailes, who oversees District 18, will maintain Liberty, San Jacinto and Hardin counties in the current proposal. Walker County will likely become a part of District 12, which is represented by Republican Kyle Kacal, a long-time resident of Brazos County.
State Senator Charles Schwertner out of Georgetown would maintain control of Walker County in Texas Senate District 5.
The needs of Walker County residents are different from the needs of Austin-area residents.
It is vital that Walker County residents use their voice and ensure that the growing area is adequately represented in Washington D.C. and in Austin. Call your current representative and be sure that this egregious move is changed before it’s too late.