Every 10 years, the United States conducts a constitutionally mandated federal census. The census asks questions of people in homes and group living situations. The goal is to count everyone once, and only once, and in the right place.
Data from the census is used for apportionment, redistributing and allotment of funds, programs and more. Apportionment is the process of dividing the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives among the 50 states. Redistricting is the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts.
The results of the census help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, including grants and support to states, counties and communities, are spent every year for the next 10 years. The results of the census also determine how funding is allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grant programs for community mental health services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP.
Redistricting is done not only on the federal and state level but also locally. This includes Hillsborough County. Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together in a district for purposes of electing a representative to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.
While the final map is decided by the vote of Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Hillsborough County welcomes the input and comments of its residents throughout the process.
“It is my sincere hope that there is a great turnout for redistricting hearings. We want to be able to do what is best for our residents so they feel heard, represented and a part of the process. Redistricting impacts where county commission boundaries are set. It is of utmost importance that fair districts keep neighborhoods together and provide the best leaders for our residents. Since redistricting only happens after a U.S. census is completed, this process will affect elections for the next 10 years,” said Commissioner Kimberly Overman, who represents District 7, a county-wide district.
Hillsborough County will hold hearings and workshops to receive public input on where district lines should be drawn. Hillsborough County has four specifically drawn districts that represent only persons living in those districts. There are two districts that represent residents of the entire county.
The first public hearing will be held on Monday, November 8 at 6 p.m. The second public hearing will be held on Tuesday, November 16 at 6 p.m. For those who cannot attend the meeting in person, please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/government/meeting-information/speak-at-a-virtual-meeting/speak-at-a-bocc-redistricting-meeting.