Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2007

Commission lines to be redrawn

November 8, 2007

De Soto could be represented by a new Johnson County Commissioner no matter the outcome of next year's election.

County commissioners will consider Nov. 16 two plans to redraw county commission districts. One of the plans would keep De Soto in the 6th Commission District, which includes most of the remaining rural portions of the county, Gardner, Spring Hill and southwest Olathe, while the other would place De Soto and the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in 2nd District.

Should De Soto remain in the 6th District, it would continue to be represented by John Toplikar of Olathe. If shifted to 2nd District, the city would be represented by John Segale of Shawnee. Segale and Toplikar are up for re-election in 2008.

The commission considers the boundaries of the six commission districts every three years. The current boundaries were approved in 2002 and reviewed with no change in 2005. But the addition of about 10,000 residents a year in the county have created unequal representation and the need to realign districts.

The county commission's goal is to approve redrawn maps this year or early in 2008. They would be adopted before August 2008 county primary.

Commission districts were last redrawn in 2002 after county voters approved changes to the county charter adding a sixth commissioner and the position of county commission chairman. With that, De Soto was removed from a district that included Shawnee and Lenexa and placed in the newly created 6th District.

That was done despite a desire expressed by De Soto USD 232 Board of Education members that the district remain in one district.

De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson said he would welcome a shift to the 2nd District because of the possibility of district again being represented on one commissioner. But he also noted the 2nd Commission District would be a K-10 district, much like the current 38th Kansas House District.

De Soto USD 232 Board of Education President Janine Gracy said redrawing the districts shouldn't affect the school district.

"I understand why they would want one person to represent the district to fight for the district as a whole," she said. "On the other hand, being represented by two people gives us the opportunity to educate two people on the commission.

"I don't think we would be unique in the county at being split."

One of the commission's goals was to maintain communities of interest, and both proposed districts would include De Soto and Sunflower in the same district. The commission will also attempt to limit partitioning of cities, recognize future growth areas and maintain current representation.

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