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Interview with Vidal Martinez and John Castillo

As you know, I’ve been following the issue of Houston City Council redistricting with a lot of interest. After the lawsuit was filed a week ago Thursday, I wanted to speak to the protagonists and ask them some questions about their position and their desired outcome. I had that opportunity recently, and sat down with attorney Vidal Martinez and former City Council Member John Castillo, who was one of the key players in the 1979 suit that gave us the districts we have now. (Carroll Robinson was also going to be in on this, but he had a last-minute conflict.) I have to say, they make a compelling case for taking action now – among other things, Martinez points out that the original map was drawn with 1970 Census data; they didn’t wait till the 1980 Census was out to go ahead with it – and claim that it could be done in time for even the May special election to go forward, if all parties agreed to do it right away. You can listen to the interview here (MP3) and judge for yourself.

As I understand it, we are currently waiting on a court hearing and a Justice Department investigation. The defendants – the Mayor, the Controller, and all City Council members – have 20 days to give their responses to the suit, so we’ll presumably see some action in early March, which is to say shortly after the filing deadline for District H. In the meantime, let me know what you think about what Martinez and Castillo have to say.

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