Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: May 13, 2011
Sen. Constance N. Johnson
Statement from Sen. Constance N. Johnson on her views about the
Senate Redistricting Process and decisions about the redrawing of
Senate District 48,
created in 1965 to ensure minority representation
pursuant to the Voting Rights Act
“I am deeply concerned about the way the Senate Redistricting
process was carried out this session. As the Senator for one of
the state’s two minority districts and a member of the minority
party, I feel that many opinions and requests on how districts should
have been drawn have been ignored. The Senate passed the bill today
and it now goes to the House for a vote.
“Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibits enactment
of redistricting plans that are adopted with a discriminatory purpose.
I feel strongly that the Senate Republican’s hiring of a highly
paid political consultant to draw our lines led to selective discrimination
against democrats and many minorities, including African Americans
in Senate District 48, and Native Americans in Tahlequah. The impact
on other areas has yet to be determined. The House process was more
transparent and has caused less contention among members.
“I’m especially concerned about the decision to now
assign a significant portion of the northeast section of Senate
District 48 to Senate District 17 in Shawnee, while adding precincts
selected by the committee chair (prior to a protest he had previously
added the area to Senate District 41 in Edmond) to the northwestern
side of the historically northeast OKC district. Given the fact
that northeast Oklahoma City is a largely African American area
of the city/county, I believe this decision ignores the fact that
the representation of this suburban area by a predominantly rural
area legislator who presently represents Shawnee will mean that
this community's interests will potentially be put on the back burner.
This is also an area that adds to the present and ensures the future
economic diversity of District 48. An additional concern is that
the House of Representatives plan keeps this area in House District
97, and thus creates a disconnect for the voters in that area with
regard to connectedness between their elected state senator and
“The power grab of the area east of I-35 and north of Wilshire
away from Senate District 48 could be detrimental to the area’s
future economic interests, and is an insult to African Americans
who have remained in this area and now view these actions as gentrification
from the north. Gentrification from the south has already headed
for 4th Street as 2nd Street has already been reclaimed by the powers
“These poorly thought out new district lines also further
substantiate various other senators’ concerns about the lack
of respect, inclusion and collegiality that has characterized this
decade's redistricting process. No one person or party should be
entrusted with making decisions that will have such far reaching
and unintended consequences on the future of our state. There are
numerous areas in the northeast quadrant of Oklahoma City/County
that have greater minority populations than the northwest section
that the Senate Redistricting Committee chair chose to include in
Senate District 48. If the truth be known, the demographic changes
in the northwest quadrant of Oklahoma City/County may actually support
the creation of another majority-minority district. As it is, given
the 'behind closed doors' nature of the process, we will never know.
The lack of collegiality in this year's redistricting process is
inexcusable and bodes poorly for the future best interests of the
state as a whole. I am calling on everyone who will to join in protesting
the process and the outcome of the Senate redistricting plan."
"In short, something reeks in the process. By the time Oklahomans
realize the disservice that the current plan represents, it will
be rotted and stinking.
"I will keep speaking out publicly about the plan as the discussions
now need to move from the hallowed political halls and highly partisan
process to the people of Oklahoma for their reactions and input.
I encourage all citizens to weigh in on the far reaching implications
of what the Senate approved today."
To view or download high resolution maps of the current and new
district lines, go to http://www.oksenate.gov/Senators/maps.aspx.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Johnson: (405) 521-5531