Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Commission to redraw three districts

Southern population growth translates into inequities

January 9, 2002

Leavenworth County commissioners have been poring over maps during the past few weeks, hoping to find an equitable way to divide the county into three districts.

Because of growth in southern Leavenworth County, the third commission district contains about 7,000 more people than the first district. And now, commissioners must redraw the districts so they're roughly equal in population.

This is how populations in Leavenworth County commission districts have changed in the past 10 years. 1990 2000 First District 16,102 15,785 Second District 16,311 18,815 Third District 16,891 22,745

"I have to give some away," said Joe Daniels Jr., who represents the third district, which includes Tonganoxie.

In 1990, the three commission districts were nearly equal in population. But that's changed.

According to information provided by the county, based on 2000 census data:

The first district now contains 15,785 people.

The second district contains 18,815 people.

The third district contains 22,745 people.

County commissioners are hoping to achieve a balance of about 19,000 people in each district.

"Everyone has to slide south a little bit," Daniels said. "We don't have to be exact, but we have to be pretty close. We'll be within a few hundred."

State law requires that commission districts be as equal and compact as possible, according to David Van Parys, county counselor. Voting precincts cannot be split.

"You don't want a district that runs two miles around the borders of the county," he said.

It's possible that commissioners will consider new district boundaries as early as Monday.

"They'll adopt it in the form of a resolution and it's done," Van Parys said.

The first district includes both Fort Leavenworth and the U.S. Penitentiary.

But people living at the fort and those who are incarcerated won't be counted, according to Don Navinsky, commission chairman, who represents the first district.

"Statutes say do count them, but by the same token, you have to be realistic," he said. "I don't know too many prisoners who vote."

It appears that Navinsky's district probably will be redrawn to include additional precincts in the city of Leavenworth.

"It's a numbers game in the precincts," Navinsky said. "They have to be touching one another and you can't just pick up here and there."

The second district, represented by Bob Adams, probably will be redrawn to include Lansing, Navinsky said.

One option, Daniels said, was to move Stranger Township into Adams' district.

"But I live in Stranger Township, so that won't work," Daniels said, chuckling.

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