EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Over the last decade, according to the 2020 census, Texas has added more than 4 million people to it’s total population going from 25.1 million in 2010 to more than 29 million in 2020.
The growth in population means that the state will gain an additional two U.S. congressional seats and now have a total of 38 seats in the house up from 36.
According to Ray Baca, the newly elected chairman of the Republican Party of El Paso, the two additional congressional seats will re-align the current congressional districts to make way for the two new districts.
“What kicked this off is the fact that the Texas population grew so much. The two new seats were inserted into the higher population areas around Dallas / Houston area,” he said, “When you insert two new seats you have to adjust all the boundaries outbound from there. The ideal circumstance is that every district is a fair representation of the population.”
This week the Texas Republicans released their redistricting proposal and District 23, represented by Republican Tony Gonzales, now includes Ft. Bliss, something Baca said is the right move.
“Moving Fort Bliss into district 23 actually makes sense because the republicans have always supported the military more than the Democrats,” Baca said, “He’s spent more than 17 years in the navy, so he’s been an advocate for the military certainly much more than Ms. Escobar is.”
Currently, Ft. Bliss is in Veronica Escobar’s district. Escobar is a Democrat who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and claims that the proposed changes are nothing more than a political play by the Republicans.
“It’s clear that the number one goal here is to gerrymander districts,” Rep. Escobar shared.
Escobar also said that it’s more than just Fort Bliss that could be represented by Gonzales, and feels it would be harmful to El Paso.
“If they are successful, El Paso’s airport and Ft. Bliss, two important assets to us would be represented by a person who probably lives in San Antonio, and so there is a tremendous risk for El Paso right now,” she said, “We would not be a priority for someone who doesn’t live in El Paso, our installation would not be a priority our airport would not be a priority.”
But Baca said their goal is to make sure everything is fair and avoid any legal battles about the redistricting.
“The ideal circumstance is that every district is a fair representation of population. What we try to do is to make sure there is an opportunity for fair representation. Being elected to office is not a sacred right, if you’re doing your job and you’re entitled to be there, just because your elected doesn’t mean your elected for life.”