The boundaries of Houston City Council District E—which includes Clear Lake and Kingwood 60 miles to the north—along with the 10 other districts in Houston could be altered as the city considers the best way to redistrict.

The changes could be what many residents of District E have been asking the city to do for years.

On May 18, District E Council Member Dave Martin and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner hosted one of several redistricting town halls across the city. The meeting at Space Center Houston along NASA Parkway allowed residents to learn and give input about the process, which is happening in response to the 2020 U.S. census.

Each district should have about 209,000 residents, but some districts have more or less. District E has about 7% more residents than it should, which is within the acceptable limit, but others have 12% more or 17% less—a difference of 66,000 residents between the most and least populous districts—which is why redistricting is necessary, city officials said.

“We’re just trying to even things out,” Turner said.

District E residents for years have expressed a desire for the district to be split or reconfigured so Clear Lake and Kingwood would not have to share a representative splitting time between both locations. Martin, who is also mayor pro tem, lives in Kingwood.

Some residents expressed while they love Martin as District E’s council member, they desire a contiguous district. Residents said Kingwood’s issues are different than Clear Lake’s and they therefore should not be together.

Turner pointed out District E is the only district that is so fragmented and geographically stretched that the city hosted two town halls to reach all constituents—one in Clear Lake and one in Kingwood.

“District E is different than all the other districts,” he said.

Martin agreed his district is unique.

“District E is the most convoluted district that we have,” Martin said.

Not everyone wants District E changed. One resident, Gene Fisseler, spoke and said he prefers District E the way it is. He said he feels Clear Lake has more in common with Kingwood than the areas around Clear Lake.

Furthermore, Fisseler has lived in the Clear Lake area for 35 years and has worked with Martin and his predecessors, and they have all done good jobs for Clear Lake despite not necessarily living in the area, he said. Redrawing District E will not necessarily solve the problem of finding a good representative who is local, he added.

“If we don’t have somebody electable, we don’t have somebody electable,” Fisseler said.

One resident asked how funding for District E might be affected if the boundaries were redrawn so Clear Lake and Kingwood had contiguous, compact districts.

Turner and Martin explained while District E is one district, the city tends to think of Clear Lake and Kingwood as separate communities and provides resources to them accordingly. For instance, the city gave resources to Kingwood for lake dredging efforts and other resources to Clear Lake for the Houston Spaceport.

That mindset could change if Clear Lake and Kingwood were no longer in the same district, they said.

“District E is almost treated like they’re two separate distinct parts, and we allocate resources based on each part, [and] that would not necessarily happen if it wasn’t drawn the way it’s been drawn,” Turner said.

While redistricting, the city aims for the new districts to maintain relatively equal population numbers; be composed of whole county voting precincts; have easily identifiable geographic boundaries; maintain communities and neighborhoods; be compact and contiguous, which not all are today; preserve incumbent-constituency relations; and avoid packing or cracking, which would diminish voting power by calculated demographic concentration and dilution, according to the city.

After town halls are held in each district and public input is gathered on how to redraw the districts, the city will redraw the boundaries based on the census data. The draft redistricting plan will then be presented to Houston City Council, and the public may comment on the proposed new maps at three public hearings scheduled for July.

Those who missed the meeting can attend a virtual one at 6 p.m. May 25 by visiting or calling 936-755-1521 with the phone conference ID of 861716070#.