If you ask Ruth Bridges, being moved from Houston City Council District C to District J takes some getting used to.
Bridges, who serves on the board for her Northbrook South Townhomes Association, was among 100 residents to attend a Sept. 13 forum for Houston City Council candidates hosted by Brays Oaks Management District and Southwest Houston 2000, a community improvement coalition.
“I wish they had put more emphasis on the redistricting situation. That would have helped me more,” Bridges said. “I’m very active in all of this, but it’s a little hard.”
Southwest Houston is home to both of the city’s new council districts, which were created after the 2010 U.S. Census revealed Houston’s population had reached the 2.1 million mark. District J was carved out of prior versions of districts C and F. District K includes parts of the old districts C and D.
Three candidates have filed for each of the new seats. And residents living in the revamped District C will have new representation at City Hall next year, since incumbent Anne Clutterbuck is term-limited. Five people are now campaigning for the seat.
The Sept. 13 forum invited candidates who have filed to represent those three districts and the citywide at-large positions 1-5.
Maps showing the new districts were prominently displayed, and at least Bridges got the chance to meet all three candidates seeking to represent her in the new District J.
“This was a good start,” she concluded.
Candidates who attended got a chance to introduce themselves and the issues they feel are important, such as public safety, infrastructure and ongoing budget constraints. Residents’ questions helped highlight specific local concerns including needed park improvements at Willow Waterhole, use of security cameras to improve public safety and participation in SWH2000 activities.
Also in attendance were a group of students from Westbury Christian, including two who are old enough to vote this year.
Audrey Redd, a senior, said she is watching the mail for her voter registration card.
“I’m taking a government class, and it’s shown me how important it is for young people to be involved,” she said.
BOMD and SWH2000 will host a second forum next month featuring the same city council districts plus candidates for mayor (there are five besides Mayor Annise Parker) and City Controller Ronald Green, who is unopposed for a second term.
That forum will be 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at Fondren Middle School, 6333 South Braeswood.
Oct. 11 is the last day residents can register to vote in the Nov. 8 general election.
The city of Houston’s website provides additional information about redistricting and the city election. For a map of the redrawn council districts, visit www.houstontx.gov/planning/2011/. For a list of candidates, go to www.houstontx.gov/2011candidates.html.