Lawmakers hope to avert city split


Eagle Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady on Wednesday said he has mixed emotions about the Texas House of Representatives’ proposal to split Brazos County into two congressional districts.

“I’ve made no bones about it, I would love to represent Brazos County again,” said Brady, R-The Woodlands, who lost this area last year under a court-approved redistricting plan. “But whether it would work or not to split up Bryan and College Station would depend on who it’s divided between and what the issues are.”

Brady described John Carter, who has represented Brazos County and some surrounding counties since January, as “a hard-working congressman” who is committed to this area.

Under the proposed plan, Carter’s 31st Congressional District would include much of Bryan. Brady’s 8th District would cover most of College Station and all of Texas A&M University.

“We could work together, I feel sure, but I don’t think that’s the ideal scenario,” Brady said. “I think nine times out of 10 it’s better for a community to be united in one district, particularly with the geographic nature of Bryan and College Station.”

No one spoke about Brazos County at a public hearing Wednesday in Waco that centered on proposed changes for splitting McLennan County, according to an aide to state Sen. Steve Ogden who attended. A final hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Austin.

The map that passed 83-62 in the House on Tuesday was sent to the Senate for approval. State Reps. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, and Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who represent portions of the Brazos Valley, voted for the proposal, while Rep. Robby Cook, D-Eagle Lake, voted against it.

Several senators, including Ogden, said the House map likely will be overturned by the Senate, so they are drafting their own version. It is expected to be unveiled by early next week.

Ogden said he has been drumming up support for any Senate proposal to keep Bryan and College Station within one district.

If the House does not concur with the Senate’s proposed plan, it will go to a conference committee for negotiations. A final plan must be approved during the Legislature’s special session, which ends July 29.

Several area residents contacted Wednesday said they would not be opposed to Brady representing this area again, even at the expense of splitting Brazos County into two districts. The congressman continues to receive widespread praise among community leaders for the way he has represented the Bryan-College Station area.

“We can say, ‘No, we don’t want to split up,’ but if we do then we get the bonus of having Kevin Brady back,” said Tom Wilkinson, executive director of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. “I have to deal with whatever we get, but if asked, our preference would be that Brazos County stay together in one district. We’ve just got too many common issues.”

• Kelli Levey’s e-mail address is klevey@theeagle.com.

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