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NAACP says Fort Myers redistricting is "cracking and splitting the minority vote"

Posted at 2:57 AM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 02:57:19-05

FORT MYERS — The Lee County NAACP is raising concerns about the redistricting maps drawn by the City of Fort Myers.

The group says some minority communities would get split up if the City goes with its current proposals. Members of the NAACP came out to the meeting at the STARS Complex Thursday night to make it clear they’re not happy with any of the proposed district maps provided by the City, and they intend to submit their own.

The room was filled with different versions showing how the districts could be drawn, but Jacquelyn McMiller with the NAACP’s Redistricting Committee said all of them marginalize communities of color in some way.

“If you split those communities, they will not be able to elect the person that best represents them," said McMiller.

McMiller said the boundaries should be drawn as much as possible on major roadways to avoid splitting neighborhoods into different wards. City Council member Terolyn Watson said that’s something she’s watching closely.

“One of the things I’m going to be concerned about is splitting up communities. I think that’s one method that they should not do," said Watson.

But McMiller was disappointed to see only a small gathering at the meeting. She blamed part of that turnout on the City.

“The community is demanding transparency, and changing dates and posting those new dates the day before the meeting is not transparent," said McMiller.

Watson told us she agrees the City needs to do more to get the word out.

“We need to engage more in our wards and invite people out more, because this is very, very important," said McMiller.

Important, because districts are only redrawn once every 10 years. McMiller said the NAACP will be submitting its own map, but she worries it may not make a difference because it’s not going to be featured at a public meeting like the others.

“That map will not get the attention and the exposure that all of these other maps have," said McMiller.

McMiller said the NAACP’s map will be out in the next couple of weeks. The City Council in Fort Myers is expected to approve a new district map early next year.