Final - maybe - redistricting plan returns Diaz-Balart as Immokalee's congressman
For the first time in years and years, Immokalee will have a single vote in the Florida House of Representatives and U.S. Rep Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, returns as Immokalee's man in Washington, D.C.
The Florida Legislature approved Feb. 9 with a vote of the Florida Senate a final - maybe - map of Florida reapportioned congressional and state house districts.
The caveat, “maybe,” keeps slipping into the conversation because no sooner had the final vote been taken than lawsuits and rumors of lawsuits also began swirling. The Legislature’s redistricting plan must pass muster by the Florida Supreme Court, the U.S. Justice Department and must survive lawsuits to be filed a number of groups who will say the state lawmakers did not comply with requirements of the Fair Districts constitutional amendments approved overwhelmingly by Florida voters in 2010.
The Legislature is required by law to redraw district lines every 10 years, two years after the decennial census, which in 2010 gave Florida two additional congressional districts.
Under the redistricting plan approved in Tallahassee for the next 10 years, Immokalee will become part of an expanded congressional district now represented by Congressman Diaz-Balart, who served Immokalee and eastern Collier County from 2002 to 2010, when he moved to another district based mostly in Hialeah and Doral.
With the new plan, Diaz-Balart’s current district is expanded to reach eastern Collier County, Immokalee and extended into Hendry County.
“We are excited," said Diaz-Balart. "I am very happy to be returning to Immokalee. I’ve continued to keep in touch with Immokalee and Everglades City and I’m thrilled to be returned as your congressman.”
The new plan also combines Immokalee, eastern Collier and much of Hendry County, including LaBelle and Clewiston, into a single district in the Florida House of Representatives now represented by State Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples.
For at least 20 years, Immokalee was split between the seat now held by Hudson and a district now represented by State Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, and before her State Rep. Joe Spratt of LaBelle. Grimsley, ending her statutorily limited 8 years in the state house will seek election to the Florida Senate in a district that will stretch from Lakeland to Clewiston, from Port Charlotte over to I-95 on the east coast.
Immokalee will continue to be included in an expansive Florida Senate district now held by State Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami. That district will continue to stretch from the Florida Keys to Hendry County.
Maps of the new districts are available here in Google Maps and other media. NOTE: don't be confused by district numbers as cited on the maps. The district numbers may change, slightly.