November 22, 2014

Charter committee may examine county redistricting

Corbin H. Crable
chcrable@gardnernews.com

The new U.S. Census Bureau numbers will be released soon, and with the announcement also will come the possible need to redraw the county’s election distict boundary lines.

According to state statute, county officials must discuss the potential need for redistricting at least once every decade, around the time Census numbers are released. The board recently organized a charter commission to explore the possibility of redistricting; each commissioner has appointed residents of his district to the committee.

Commissioner Calvin Hayden represents the county’s Sixth District, which includes Gardner, DeSoto, Edgerton and the western portion of Olathe. He said that when the Census numbers are released in March, county staff will review the county’s population growth and how it is distributed among the county’s six districts.

“The county makes the decision as to where to readjust the districts,” Hayden said.

He noted that the county examines the possibility of redistricting more often than what is mandated by law.

“We do it more often than that,” Hayden said. “The county did it in 2007, and they try to do it every three years.”

Hayden declined to speculate on what the new county boundaries would look like and said that although the official numbers have not been released, the county has seen “good growth” in Gardner and Spring Hill specifically.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the most recent population estimate for

Johnson County stands at 532,000.
Information obtained from the county’s Automated Information Mapping System (AIMS) shows that the Sixth District is the fourth largest in the county with an estimated population of 88,371 people. The largest is the First District, with an estimated population of 90,666. The First District includes Overland Park, Leawood, Merriam and Prairie Village.

The makeup of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners itself changed in 2000, with the approval of a new Home Rule Charter. The charter established a seven-member county commission board, comprised of one chairman and six commissioners representing six districts throughout the county. Earlier this month, county commissioners appointed new members to the charter commission. The appointees include rural Gardner resident Glenn Bonar, Hayden said.

“Glenn is a farmer, and you’re not going to find a better representative of western Johnson County,” he said.

The commission’s members number 25, with eight members appointed by the board and the remainder appointed by groups such as the Council of Mayors and various political parties.

Both Bonar and Chris Illiff of Aubrey Township were appointed by the Johnson County Planning Commission to represent the unincorporated areas of the county.

Hayden said the commission will meet within the next month to discuss redistricting possibilities. According to an article from The Kansas City Star, the commission must report to the Board of County Commissioners at this time next year.

All of the commission’s meetings are open to the public.

Comments

  1. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    The Census figures are also used for redrawing U.S. Congressional districts and state legislature districts. This sometimes creates problems for incumbent office-holders who, after redistricting, become forced to run for reelection against members of their own political party. This was the stated reason given by S. Mike Kiegerl of Olathe, Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives from the 43rd District serving southwest Johnson County, for not seeking a fifth two-year term in 2012.

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