Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 83
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for April 5, 2001

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

The census data is out and jockeying over reapportionment is beginning in Jefferson City. Because of population shifts, districts must be realigned for the U.S. House of Representatives, both houses of the state legislature, the county commission and any city that elects a governing body by geographic wards. And because how the districts are aligned can affect political power for the next 10 years, we can expect to see a lot of wrangling and skullduggery.

The main elements considered in reapportionment are protection of incumbents, protection of party power base, and geographic contiguity, in that order. With so many state legislators facing term limits, fewer legislative incumbents will need protection, so protection of party power base will become paramount. While the two house districts (120th & 121st) that contain major areas of Johnson County are quite close to the optimal size (34,360), we may be affected by changes generated by more rapid growth in suburban Kansas City. Our state senate district, as well as all adjacent ones, is above the optimum number (164,700) [data calculated based on information located at]. Statewide, since the areas that have lost population are traditional Democrat strongholds, some efforts at gerrymandering will undoubtedly take place, especially when it comes to making an effort to protect congressional seats.

At the local level, there won’t be much fighting. The Republicans control all three positions on the county commission, so realigning the east and west commissioners shouldn’t be too difficult. Warrensburg elects everyone at large, so the city needs to do nothing.

The skullduggery in Jefferson City has already begun, with Gov. Holden playing games in naming the Republican member of the reapportionment commission. As we watch the process that will likely end up in the courts (again!), remember that it’s a game played for the political power to control what happens to your money and your life.

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