Redistricting lawsuit over. We won!


This map, one of many submitted to federal court in a lawsuit about the City of Miami redistricting process, has been approved for the Nov. 7 election. It keeps Coconut Grove intact as part of District 2.

In a stunning victory for Grovites and others who opposed the March 2022 redistricting vote of the Miami City Commission, U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore ruled on July 30 that the redistricting plan submitted by the ACLU on behalf of a list of plaintiffs, including many from Coconut Grove, will govern the November 2023 election.
The March 2022 map divided Coconut Grove among Districts 2, 3, and 4, and the court ruled against it on the premise that it constituted racial gerrymandering. The map approved yesterday keeps Coconut Grove intact.
Although the City of Miami has already announced its intention to appeal the decision and the case will eventually go to trial, the deadline for a new redistricting map for the November 7 election is August 1, 2023. There will be no time for either side in the case to develop a new map.
Despite a series of public meetings in which Coconut Grove leaders pled the City Commission to keep all of Coconut Grove in District 2, on June 14, 2023, the Commission, under court order, adopted a revised map that divided a large swath of the North Grove between Districts 2 and 3. That map placed the home of Commissioner Joe Carollo, located in the North Grove, in District 3. Like the other commissioners, Carollo is required by law to live in the district he represents. The June 14 map also drew a boundary around the home of Miguel Angel Gabela, an opponent of incumbent District 1 commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla. Gabela has lived in District 1 for more than 20 years, but the new map put him in District 3, making him ineligible to oppose Diaz de la Portilla this November. As of yesterday, Gabela still lives in District 1, and Carollo may have to change his residence in order to keep his District 3 seat.
Coconut Grove leaders rejoiced yesterday when informed about the court’s decision. Following are statements from several of them. The Spotlight will publish additional reactions to the decision as letters to the editor in our Thursday, August 3, edition. Letters should be submitted to [email protected] and should be no longer than 100 words.

Statements from Community Leaders

I am thrilled to witness the success of the new City of Miami district voter map, as it powerfully unites our traditional neighborhoods and preserves the cohesion of communities of interest. Heartfelt commendations go out to the formidable coalition of dedicated advocacy groups, passionate Miami residents, and the ACLU, who fearlessly challenged the City and its new district lines through a lawsuit. It is disheartening, though necessary, that as residents, we must take such decisive legal action to ensure that our city commissioners uphold fairness and integrity in governance. The City has already announced it will appeal the court’s decision, again disheartening and a waste of taxpayer dollars.—Marlene Erven, President, Coconut Grove Park Homeowners Association
Damn shame you must go to court to be heard.—Ron Nelson, former chief of staff to District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff
It’s a new day for Miami voters who will finally have a fair say in our elections. The court’s decision to reject the City’s gerrymander and order the plaintiffs’ map means Miami’s communities will get fair representation in government this November.—Yanelis Valdes, Engage Miami’s director of organizing and advocacy and an individual plaintiff in the case
The court got it right today by ordering a map that protects the will of the people. Today is a big win for racial justice and democracy in Miami.—Nicholas Warren, ACLU of Florida staff attorney
Awesome news. Now let’s keep up the momentum to go for 7 or 9 districts so anything like this doesn’t happen again!—John Schoendorf, North Grove 
This shows what public participation can accomplish, getting up and persisting and making your voice heard. A special shout-out to the plaintiffs in the case—Clarice Cooper, Carolyn Donaldson, GRACE, and Engage Miami—who put themselves on the line to carry the case forward. They’ve demonstrated what people can do when they care about their community and raise their voices beyond just complaining. They’re people who are engaged in the civic process and who stay informed, who take action on behalf of their city, their neighborhoods, and their communities.—Mel Meinhardt, Organizer, One Grove


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