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Burnet County to get new state, federal representation with redrawn districts

Texas State Capitol Building

UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott signed the new U.S Congressional districts, state Senate districts, state House districts and State Board of Education districts into law on Monday, Oct. 25.

Burnet County residents will get all-new elected representation on the state level based on new redistricting maps recently approved by the Texas Legislature in its third special session of the year. The new maps go into effect following the November 2022 general election. 

Every 10 years, Texas revamps its representation districts based on the latest U.S. Census numbers. The 2020 census was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, Oct. 25, Gov. Greg Abbott had not signed off on the maps, but it’s expected he soon will.

The new maps made it through the Legislature, but not everyone is pleased with the results. Mel Hazelwood, the Burnet County Democratic chair, voiced frustration over the final maps, which he believes heavily favors the Republican Party at the expense of others.

“Almost 95 percent of Texas’ population growth the past decade has been with Hispanic, Black, and Asian Americans, yet Texas Republicans found a way to reduce their voting strength,” he said. 

“This is gerrymandering at its worst.”

Burnet County Republican Party Chair Kara Chasteen disagreed, saying the Legislature was responsive to voters during the redistricting process. One of the early state Senate maps contained a portion of southern Burnet County, including Meadowlakes, in a separate district from the rest of the county. Chasteen and others put out a call for residents to share their thoughts with state senators during hearings.

“We contested those lines and were able to get Burnet County whole in one (state) Senate district,” she said. “Our voices were heard.”

Burnet and Llano counties remain in Senate District 24, which will have a different geographic look this time around. The newly drawn district will include Medina County and a portion of Atascosa County to the south and Kimble and Sutton counties to the west. The district loses Hamilton, Mills, San Saba, Brown, Comanche, Callahan, and Taylor counties.

Current District 24 Sen. Dawn Buckingham announced before the maps were drawn that she is seeking the GOP nomination for Texas land commissioner, opening up her Senate spot.

As of Monday, former state Sen. Pete Flores and Paul Reyes announced they will seek the GOP nomination for the District 24 spot. 

The new District 24 lines wrap around the outside of San Antonio and south of it to pick up Pleasanton and a portion of Atascosa County, where Flores resides. Flores lost his re-election bid last year in the current Senate District 19.

On the state House side, Burnet County is currently in District 20, represented by Terry Wilson, but the county is moving into a newly created District 19. 

Wilson has already announced he will seek re-election for the newly drawn District 20, which is solely within Williamson County. Chasteen said it will allow Wilson to keep his seniority in the state House if he’s re-elected. 

Current District 73 Rep. Kyle Biedermann lives in Gillespie County, which is now part of the new District 19. He announced he is considering running for the GOP nomination for that district but hadn’t made a firm decision as of Monday. If he does choose to run, he won’t be alone.

Ellen Troxclair and Justin Berry have already announced their plans to seek the Republican nomination for District 19. Troxclair is a businesswoman and former Austin City Council member, and Berry is a veteran police officer. 

Llano County remains in House District 53, currently represented by Rep. Andrew Murr, a Junction Republican.

As the U.S. Congressional districts go, Burnet County is moving from District 25 represented by U.S. Rep. Roger Williams to District 31 currently represented by U.S. Rep. John Carter. Both men are Republicans. 

Llano County remains in District 11, currently represented by U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, a Republican. 

The only district Burnet County won’t see a numerical change to is the State Board of Education, where it will remain in District 10, currently represented by Tom Maynard. Llano County will join Burnet County in District 10, moving it from its current District 5. 

While several people have announced intentions to seek their party’s nominations for a particular seat, the window for candidates to file for a spot on the Republican or Democratic March primary ballot is Nov. 13-Dec. 13. 

For more information on the state’s redistricting, including a look at current and new maps, visit the Texas Redistricting website

daniel@thepicayune.com