JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Early voting in the city-wide March elections is underway and one major factor that will determine who wins is redistricting.
The new voting district maps took months to create and were the subject of a lot of court battles.
It was the hot-button topic in local politics for months. Meetings, lawsuits and a fair amount of public outrage surrounded the city's redistricting effort. In January the city lost its legal fight to overturn a newly submitted council district map, which is being used in this election.
Two districts in particular are seeing significant change: District 8 on Jacksonville's northwest side and District 14 on the Westside.
First Coast News political analyst and editor of The Tributary, Andrew Pantazi, says the new district map will have a massive effect on voters after the election.
"These new lines are going to change not necessarily who gets elected, but also the dynamics in these districts," said Pantazi.
Let's dive into District 8, previously represented by Ju'Coby Pittman, who is now in District 10 due to the redrawn maps. Three of the five candidates running for this seat were moved from District 7 to District 8 in this election due to redrawn maps.
The candidates are republican Charles "Scooter" Barr, democrats Reggie Gaffney Jr, Tameka Gaines Holly and Solomon Olopade as well as libertarian Ronald Tracy Robinson Jr.
"Hopefully the way they handle constituent services is different, having more compact cleaner district lines," said Pantazi.
District 14 offers a different challenge. Under the old map multiple neighborhoods were carved up and segmented into different districts. However, under the new map, areas of Jacksonville near Argyle, 103rd Street and Collins Road will fall under the same district, which will make it less red and more blue.
"District 14, which before was to the right of the city as a whole, now is right in line with the city in terms of politics," said Pantazi. "Under the previous lines would not have been the case."
The candidates running for the District 14 seat are republicans John Draper and Alberta Hipps and democrat Rahman Johnson.
"We'll see more neighborhood representation on council," said Pantazi. "District 14 is now decidedly Westside because all 3 candidates live over there. It's going to change the discussion when we talk about development on the Westside."