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City Council approves new district map for Jacksonville

A federal judge ruled that the previous district map was unconstitutional because it was drawn along racial boundaries.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville City Council has approved a new district map after the previous map was struck down by a federal judge over claims that it was drawn along racial lines.

It was a process that took weeks of planning and days of deliberation. 

City Council met for an emergency session Thursday that lasted for more than six hours, but ultimately they approved a new district map for Jacksonville.

"Maroon IIIE-Fix" is the name of the new map that was approved by a 16-1 vote by City Council. Some candidates for City Council seats went to Thursday's session to voice their complaints over the process of drawing new map lines. 

One Jacksonville resident even tore apart copies of map drafts in front of Council; he was eventually escorted out of chambers by police officers.

Ultimately, a refrain from many council members was one of compromise.

"We have to move forward and do the best we can," said Reggie Gaffney, who represents District 7. "Somebody is going to have to give a little bit and take a little bit."

City Council was presented with more than half a dozen options and after the originally recommended map was voted down Council President Terrance Freeman continued talk of compromise.

"Let's not let perfect be the enemy of good," said Freeman.

Map Maroon IIIE-Fix was not passed in its first vote by Council, but some members who voted against it were given a private meeting with the map drawer and three of them switched their vote in favor of the map.

"We couldn't make it work," said Councilwoman Randy DeFoor, who represents District 14 and switched her vote from 'no' to 'yes'.

"I had Jerry Holland on the phone, Dr. Johnson was working and I wasn't allowed to look at the maps, but I trust Jerry Holland, and he said he couldn't make it work."

"I grew up in that district," said DeFoor. "Riverside, Avondale are very much a part of Ortega. Having them separated just doesn't feel right, and I worry that they're not going to get the representation they deserve."

RELATED: Federal judge finds Jacksonville City Council, School Board districts were likely racially gerrymandered

Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson represents District 10 and was the lone 'no' vote on the council.

"I don't know that there was one map or one thing that the plaintiffs introduced in that," said Priestly Jackson. "You follow what I'm saying, we just moved things around again, we really did, disrupted communities of interest, a new group of them."

From here the federal judge that struck down the original map will review the current map that was approved by City Council.

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