Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Know Your District Lines: the Hamilton Park story

At a political event the other night, one of our Sessions Watchers had a long argument with a political junkie who insisted that Hamilton Park, an historically African-American neighborhood, is part of Pete Sessions' district. It is not; Hamilton Park is in TX-3, Sam Johnson's district. Click the map (from Sam Johnson's website) for an enlargement and take a look at the area between Forest Lane to the South and 635 to the North, bounded on the East and West by Coit and Greenville. That's Hamilton Park.

The person who insisted that Hamilton Park is in TX-32 cited the bill Pete Sessions sponsored, designating the Post Office at 8135 Forest Lane as Dr. Robert E. Price Post Office Building, named for a long-time Hamilton Park resident. When the TX-32 lines were drawn, the man insisted, Hamilton Park was included because Pete Sessions was so beloved by this neighborhood from his old district.

Here's the real story, which our Sessions Watcher tried unsuccessfully to explain: Pete Sessions originally wrote a bill naming the post office after Vaughn Gross, a principal of a Hamilton Park school, who just happens to also be a personal friend and campaign supporter of Pete Sessions ; residents of this historically African-American neighborhood petitioned to block Pete Sessions' bill before it went to the Senate:
In 2004, Mr. Sessions had proposed that the facility bear the name of Vaughn Gross, a white educator who served as principal of Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School for five years.

After the U.S. House approved Mrs. Gross, community leaders started a petition drive to block Mr. Sessions' bill when it went to the Senate.
Under pressure from the community, Sessions retracted his original bill and agreed to name the new post office for the person the residents wanted, Dr. Robert E. Price. But the Hamilton Park incident left residents feeling that Pete Sessions was out of touch with voters in the district, so when the lines were drawn to insure a safe GOP seat in the newly created TX-32, Hamilton Park was excluded.


Lisa said...

What kind of political event did you go to? Somebody's checking out the district lines? Tell us more!!

Sessions Watch said...

Hi, Lisa,

Don't get excited, the political event was for a Dallas County candidate--not saying which party--and the political junkie wasn't a political strategist "checking out the district," just a precinct chair from another congressional district commenting on Pete Sessions "popularity" in Hamilton Park.

We decided to write about this anecdote because of something that happened in the last election cycle, where a potential candidate was given bad advice by a "political strategist" who offered help, but didn't know the district boundaries well enough.

Nancy said...

I was logging on to ask the same thing, Lisa. I'm on a weird boundary too with EB Johnson's district across the street. Thanks to Sessions WAtch for setting the record straight on Hamilton Park. maybe you can do some other lines,too.

Sessions Watch said...

Hi, Nancy,

Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds like an idea for an ongoing series--we'll consider it.