Tampa Bay Times (FL) - Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Author: Mark Puente

Despite objections from residents, newly drawn council district maps will keep the eight current council members in their districts - and in office. 

The city's Redistricting Commission reaffirmed its choice with a 5-4 vote to forward the maps known as Plan 7 to the full council. The council must finalize them by May 12. 

About 20 residents attended the hearing. Several objected to the group working to keep incumbents in office. 

The commission didn't go far enough in making the districts compact, said Matt Florell, a frequent critic of red light cameras, adding: "You did not need to preserve whole precinct boundaries for these districts." 

David McKalip, who has filed to run in District 4, would live in District 3 under the proposed plan. The neurosurgeon, blogger and tea party activist urged the commission to stop listening to staffers and seek outside advice. 

He thanked the group for their work, but said it was "a corrupt process." 

The City Charter requires that council districts have equal representation, be compact and formed of contiguous territories, and follow boundaries for voting precinct and natural boundaries. 

Each district would have about 30,600 residents. The commission started meeting weekly last month to devise new boundaries as required because the 2010 census found the city lost 4,000 residents. 

The council could approve the commission's choice or modify the map. Approval would require only one vote.