Commissioners Proposing New Districts for Prowers County

New boundaries are being proposed for the three districts in Prowers County, the first time they’ve been altered in over 40 years.  The 2010 national census has showed the three districts are out of population alignment.  Instead of an equal one-third population representation in each district, the county population is at 19% for District 1 represented by Henry Schnabel, 35% for District 2 represented by Joe Marble and 46% for District 3 represented by Gene Millbrand.  State statutes declare that the district population should have at least a plus or minus 5% representation among all three.  After studying the three scenarios developed by Mary Root, County Land Use Administrator, the commissioners decided in favor of the first scenario which has the districts at 33% and 34% and 34% respectively.

District One is proposed as that portion of Prowers County east of highway 287 as it travels north to the KLMR curve and continues northward on CR 8, the May Valley Highway.  A portion of District 3, mostly in the industrial park area of the city will be incorporated into that district although it is east of the highway.  District 2 will be west of CR8 and north of the river.  The districts are being apportioned through either geographic or highway designations.  It was also determined that the proposed changes will have no bearing on commissioner representation in the county. One result in the proposal will be less of a geographic coverage area for Marble and more for Schnabel.  District 2 will be the least affected of the three.   The commissioners are mindful of maintaining a balance of population along rural and city residents in each district.  They also stressed the new districts will not show favoritism for voter registrations or political party affiliations.

This is only a proposal at this time and a public hearing will be scheduled to give an opportunity for public comment in favor or in opposition to the plans, or recommendations for an alternative plan.  The county has until September 30 to forward their plan to the state.  Once the changes have been approved, the county clerk will need to manually adjust the district population in her records for future elections.  The commissioners will set a date for the public hearing to be announced at a later time.

By Russ Baldwin

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