Hays County Commissioners Court adopted a proclamation celebrating September as Hispanic Heritage Month and also recognized contributions from the first Indigenous and Tejano families in the county during its Sept. 21 meeting.
Before the reading of the proclamation, descendants of the first Indigenous and Hispanic families shared stories of their legacies and celebrated a step toward Latinx recognition in Hays County.
Anita Collins, executive assistant to Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra, said it was special to have her heritage validated in the form of this proclamation.
"It's a proud moment for me, even though I am not even listed on the proclamation," Collins said. "When you grow up not seeing your family's names in the textbooks, in the history books, you think you are nothing. You think it doesn't matter … I saw all the names of all the people here in Hays County ... somos primos— we’re all related.”
Rogelio Casas also supported the adoption of the proclamation. Casas hopes government actions like the county's proclamations can help young people instill pride in their heritage and preserve the traditions of his culture.
“Today we think and say, ‘what happened to the good ol' days where [a traditional Hispanic celebration] was a big deal in our lives?" Casas said. "I am so happy this is happening again, this proclamation, and we may probably try to perhaps do the parades again and do all those fun things so that our children can see what our grandparents did for us," Casas said.
In addition to recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, the commissioners declared Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week, October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month and Oct. 1 as National Manufacturing Day.
The commissioners also voted to allocate $1,250 to Texas State’s Center for Diversity and Gender Studies to cover the costs of outreach and events that occurred during the university's Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) week. Despite a lack of support from Commissioners Mark Jones and Walt Smith, the motion passed three to two.
Representatives of Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP, a full-service law firm, also discussed Hays County's plan of redistricting within the next few months. The firm emphasized redistricting would need to fairly represent the minority population in Hays County, and make sure not to undermine current political representatives by removing their voter pool.
During the meeting's public hearing, community members expressed concern that minority voices are currently and will continue to be underrepresented. Community members suggested redistricting lines could be drawn in a partisan manner.
The commissioners voted unanimously to adopt Findings of Fact regarding political boundaries of Hays County, a method of drawing boundaries focused on transparency and numerical data. Bob Bass, Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP representative, explained the process of redistricting and expressed his dedication to doing so in a way that is fair to the Hays County population.
“This work is some science, some driven by case law, some of it by number crunching, but a lot of it is art and how do you draw those lines to balance those contesting concerns,” Bass said. “That requires transparency and interface with community of interest. I am willing to sit down with the software and computer and try different scenarios out in my experience, you can do that ad infinitum.”
The commissioners also approved the FY 2022 Hays County Budget after a final public hearing and voted to raise the annual property tax rate to .3867 cents.
The Hays County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. For more information visit its website.