Gilmer residents Jim Lacaze, far left, and Aida Lacaze, far right, get their photo taken with State Rep. Jay Dean and country music star Neal McCoy before the flag raising ceremony at Tempest Golf Club in western Gregg County on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.

The first draft of a map redrawing Texas House districts shows a change in the counties state Rep. Jay Dean represents, but the Longview Republican said it is not yet set in stone.

Texas House members on Thursday released the first proposal for a new map redrawing the chamber’s 150-member districts. The initial draft shows Dean’s House District 7 shifting from Upshur and Gregg counties to Gregg, Harrison and Marion counties.

“This is just a first pass of things,” Dean said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be the final product.”

The Texas Legislature is in its third special session, which is focused on the redistricting process. Beginning Tuesday, legislators will be debating the first map, Dean said.

The redistricting process happens every 10 years and coincides with decennial U.S. Census data. Based on the 2010 Census numbers, each Texas House District consisted of about 170,000 to 175,000 constituents. With the 2020 data, each district will need to have about 194,000 constituents.

Upshur County has about 40,000 people, while Gregg County is home to about 125,000. To continue representing the two counties, he would need to gain additional population from somewhere else.

Meeting the new population requirements, according to Dean, is done by looking at the map and trying to determine where an additional number of people can be found “to meet the requirements of the size populations.”

“We’re just trying to find population and figuring out how to put these districts together contiguously by county to make sure we have at least 194,000 people per district,” Dean said.

And while population is a factor of redistricting, being contiguous is also an important aspect, Dean said. Shifting his district east to include Harrison and Marion counties would — at first look — meet the 194,000-population mark.

To determine the fate of the districts, Dean said debate and changes will be taking place Tuesday as legislators decide the best course of action for each of the 150 Texas House of Representatives districts.

“We’ll debate the map, and amendments will be made to change the map in certain situations,” Dean said. “It’s almost like a chess game or putting together a puzzle, but it’s based on population.”

The first draft of the redistricting map is not the final one, Dean said, and he added that residents are encouraged to involved by sharing their thoughts.

Under the preliminary map, Upshur County would move under state Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mount Pleasant, who also represents Rains, Wood, Titus, Camp and part of Smith counties.

District 9, which currently includes Harrison, Cass, Marion, Panola, Sabine and Shelby counties and is represented by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, would move south to include the counties of Angelina, Houston, Polk, Trinity and Tyler. Paddie, who has represented House District 9 since 2013, announced recently that he will not seek reelection to another term.

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