Bernard gets road warrior acclaimby John Kennedy | September 19th, 2011
West Palm Beach Democrat Mack Bernard earned a shout-out Monday for being among only a handful of lawmakers attending all 26 public hearings this summer on redistricting.
The grueling tour spanned from the Pensacola to Key West, with stops rural and urban along the way. “We learned a lot. And saw a lot,” said Bernard, after the House Redistricting Subcommittee noted his wide-ranging schlep.
With lawmakers returning to the Capitol for a week’s worth of committee hearings, recapping those redistricting hearings consumed much of the House’s day.
When it comes to redrawing district lines for the 120 House seats, members of the public, community groups, and local elected officials often urged lawmakers to strive to keep municipalities whole, without dividing them across more than one district.
Boca Raton and West Palm Beach were among the communities making such pitches; of course, some areas — like rural Jackson County in North Florida — sought to be divided among two state House seats, in hopes of gaining more oomph in Tallahassee.
Singled out during the summer’s hearing in Boca Raton were a couple districts – held by Rep. Steve Perman, a Democrat and Bill Hager, a Republican. Perman’s District 78 was criticized as unwieldy, stretching from the Fort Pierce area to Boca Raton; Hager’s district should be confined to Palm Beach County, some of those testifying said, rather than stretching as it does now, into Broward.
For Senate districts, Palm Beach County commissioners this summer also urged lawmakers when they begin creating maps next year, at least keep the current compliment of three Senate districts with a majority of their population in the county — out of the six districts that now touch the county.