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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frances Farenthold, December 14, 1974. Interview A-0186. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Effort to establish single member districts in Texas

Farenthold discusses how the establishment of single member districts was one focus of the reform effort made by the Texas state legislature during the early 1970s. As Farenthold describes it, single member districts would have allowed various minority groups, notably Mexican-Americans, better representation in state politics. Although the issue stalled, Farenthold argues that more progress was made than had been ever before.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frances Farenthold, December 14, 1974. Interview A-0186. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DE VRIES:
Will more single member districts bring more reform to the legislative process?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
I think that it will help. And you know, again, I really felt that this was going to be a significant issue. Because I don't know if you knew, but a three judge panel had called for redistricting into single member districts . . . you know, we have three counties now, or four . . . three, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston are single member districts. And so, this court decision called for seven more which would get you into your areas where you have a high Mexican-American population. El Paso, Corpus Christi, Tarrent, Travis and I've forgotten where else . . . Port Arthur. And at the request of the governor the week before the filing deadline, the attorney general asked for a stay and was granted a stay. So, those single member districts have been postponed. But I think, based upon what we saw in 1973, that the single member districts are significant.
WALTER DE VRIES:
So, where do you see it going? If we come back in ten years from now, what is going to change here?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
I can't tell you.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Do you think that it's stalled?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Sure it's stalled. Now, I can see the changes in some things through single member districts, that were never even attempted before that. And I speak specifically of prison reform, and of course, the blacks are into that. We didn't even consider such. I can see stuff with the women coming in, on credit discrimination. Those are specific things that were started in '73 and that weren't even discussed prior to that.