Mediators try to resolve fight over redistricting

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HOUSTON - There is a battle over new district lines that some said are unfair to Hispanic voters.

The fight is over Hispanic voting rights in Harris County, where Hispanics count for 40 percent of the population but hold few county offices.

A lawsuit was filed after county commissioners approved new precinct boundaries that reduced Hispanic voting strength in Precinct 2, where Republican Jack Morman ousted long-time Commissioner Sylvia Garcia last year.

The sides have been going through mediation, but a deal has not been reached.

"We pretty much feel that we need representation," east Harris County resident Elise Gonzales said. "We got the representation in City Council, at the state representative level; now we need it at Commissioner's Court level."

The lawsuit was set to go to trial Monday morning, but it was postponed as both sides continued mediation. County commissioners were scheduled to meet twice Monday to vote on whatever was hammered out, but twice no deal was reached.

"No progress," Assistant Harris County Attorney Terry O'Rourke said. "This is a complicated issue. I don't care how you did it, how much in good faith you are, and I believe the lawyers are, this is hard to do no matter what."

If no agreement is reached by 9 a.m. Tuesday, the case will go to trial.

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