What occurs once every ten years, only in an “odd-numbered” year, and affects each and every one of us? Redistricting! Redistricting is the process of reshaping the geographic areas of our communities served by representatives in Congress, the State Legislature, County Commission, and School Board to reflect the latest population data of the United States Census.

After completing the decennial census, the United States Census Bureau delivered 2020 Redistricting data for Florida and its counties in August 2021. Census data for Collier County revealed population growth from 321,520 people in April 2010 to 375,752 people in April 2020. This information is typically released several months earlier, but was delayed due to challenges including the pandemic. This forced an expedited process by government entities to complete the necessary re-drawing of commission district boundaries to balance population of districts for elected officials. Johnson Engineering’s planners assisted Collier County with the redistricting effort to ensure a robust public outreach program. The program emphasized engaging and informing citizens about the process and the alternative redistricting maps.

Johnson Engineering Planner, Amanda Martin, led public outreach efforts by preparing a Public Outreach Plan. The plan outlines statutory requirements along with additional strategies to provide information and notice to the public about the redistricting process. Amanda assisted Collier County with meeting arrangements, presentation material, handouts, and documentation of ten meetings with civic groups and municipalities, including the Collier County NAACP, Immokalee Chamber of Commerce and Everglades City. Additionally, we assisted Collier County with hosting evening public meetings in each of the five districts of the County to facilitate public involvement and gather comments on five alternative redistricting maps. To reach all citizens, remote participation was available through Facebook Live; translators attended the public meetings; and notices in the newspaper and handouts were provided in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. These efforts resulted in a decision by the Board of County Commissioners on December 14, 2021 to adopt the new district map that they found best provides for equitable, compact, and regularly shaped districts for ten more years of election cycles to come.

For more information, contact Amanda Martin at mkt@johnsoneng.com.