Senate Redistricting Hearing

San Angelo, TX - June 30, 2003

My name is Wes Sims and I currently serve as the President of Texas Farmers Union, a family farm and ranch organization. I live in the 17th district, fifteen miles east of Sweetwater. I would like to express my appreciation to Senator Duncan and the committee on redistricting for this opportunity to share some of my thoughts about redistricting during a special called session by Governor Perry in the coming weeks.

Why would Governor Perry after stating publicly several times that he would not call a redistricting special session, go against his own words? The Governor himself forced redistricting into the courts by refusing to call a special session in 2001.

A federal panel, who took weeks of expert testimony reached a unanimous decision and then created the current map. Most Republicans at that time praised the map, and rightly so, because their statewide candidates won 20 of the 32 districts.

Why would the Governor spend $2 million dollars, and possibly much more, of hard working tax paying Texan's money on the special session? Could it be to satisfy the self-serving interest of one big city Washington D.C. Politician?

Any assault on the few remaining rural districts is a direct attack on rural representation and our rural communities. In these districts there are no overwhelming population centers and every county and every community commands the attention and respect of anyone seeking to represent them.

The 17th district has always been a basically rural multi-county district where every constituent counts. Any effort to change the 17th district to disadvantage Charlie Stenholm would be a terrible disservice to Texas. It is clearly in the best interest of Texas to have a conservative Democrat, with over 20 years seniority in a position of strength in his party's leadership.

Texan's should keep in mind that our nation is pretty evenly divided and that political gravity is likely to shift frequently for the foreseeable future. Charlie is in a position to help Texas. He stays in Congress because he both votes and helps his district. His tenure should be decided by the voters of his district not the map drawers with a narrow self-interest of one big city politician in mind.

In conclusion I would again say thank you to everyone who had a part in making this hearing possible today.

Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556