Any redistricting is a complex process. Drawing 163 districts is an even more complex process. That is the challenge for the House Redistricting Commission. The Commission of 18 members meet today at Pierson Auditorium at UMKC today to take testimony about the drawing of districts.
Before they got to testimony, Chairman Joe Maxwell noted that the Skaggs-Davis Map (which gets referred to throughout testimony) was a map of Trent Skaggs and Marlene Davis and not of the commission. Maxwell also noted that both 7th district members were unable to attend. Commissioner Nick Myers lost his business in the Joplin Tornado and Commissioner Todd Patterson lost his home in the Joplin Tornado.
As for the testimony, here is a quick summary of the points made by the State Representatives and other residents of the Kansas City area to the commission.
Representative Mike Talboy (House Democratic Floor Leader, Kansas City) spoke about the Skaggs-Davis Map as a good start. He suggested preserving the history of the KCMO districts along with suggesting the 18th and Vine area be in a majority African-American district and that the Westside/Westport/Downtown area remain in one district. He was asked about a Hispanic majority/plurality district in KCMO and noted that it was important and that the predominantly Hispanic areas were in Northeast KC and around Southwest Trafficway in western KC.
Senator Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City) also spoke of the Skaggs-Davis map as a good starting point and was questioned about if the current map was just as good for the Eastern Kansas City area.
Rob Willard, an attorney/Republican committeeman from Platte County spoke of his concerns with the Skaggs-Davis Map, such as the number of all-Platte County districts in that map or any map. He also voiced concern over the South KC/Grandview area on the map and voiced support for sticking to the Constitution and Communities of Interest in the map.
Represenative Myron Neth (R-Liberty) noted that the Skaggs-Davis Map splits Liberty and spoke about how his district was 50/50 and the important of communities of interest.
Representative John Rizzo (D-Kansas City) spoke about keeping Northeast KC together, keeping the City Market in his district, and not wanting to dilute the district too much in the expansion. He noted that his district is an Immigrant district, but if it had to expand, it could go west or south. Commissioner JoAnn Karll asked Rizzo if his father was Henry Rizzo (who Karll served in the House with in the 1990s) and indeed he was. I’m unsure if the “I thought she was going to ask how old I was” / Birth Certificate Joke will make the official record though.
Representative Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City) spoke about getting letters from constituents about the redistricting. He noted parts of thhe letter that spoke about wanting Grandview to be in one district, and noted that putting Redbridge KCMO with Greenwood, MO was not too workable of an idea. He cited the Grandview School District as a starting point for a district in the area.
Represenative Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) expanded on the McManus testimony, submitted a map for that area of Kansas City, and talked about having the Center School District and most of the Hickman Mills School District in a district post-redistricting.
Shirley Smith, Joan Englesfield, and Kevin Quarlo (Carlow?) went back to back to back about Gladstone and having Gladstone be in one district.
Nola Wood, a Republican candidate in 2010 (and 2011 v. Kiki Curls) talked about moving the 45th to take in the surplus from the 46th.
Representative Gary Cross (R-Lee’s Summit) spoke about working with representatives in other districts on the matter of redistricting to try and achieve some sort of reasonable idea about what to do in that part of the county.
Represenative Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) mentioned that Raytown was split between multiple districts and how they could be in their own district. Also spoke about trying to get 4200 people for her district and how getting the Center School District on the Skaggs-Davis Map wasn’t exactly ideal.
Kyle Yarber, a Gladstone-area State House candidate, added to the chorus of people not wanting to split up Gladstone. Ann Fowler of South KCMO spoke of keeping the districts intact.
Representative Brent Lasater (R-Independence) spoke of his happiness with the 2001 map and suggested moving surplus from his district to the 51st district.
RJ McGather (McGarther?) of 42nd/Prospect spoke about his concern that KCMO would lose a representative in the redistricting.
Former State Representative and State Senator Bob Johnson (R-Lee’s Summit) had the longest testimony of the morning. Johnson represents a group called “Let Missourians Decide” (no word on if they bought that name from a previous group). Johnson spoke of his concern with the lack of competitive districts, noted that 95 of 163 districts had one candidate win over 2/3rds of the vote. He presented a KC area map that his group put together that was meant to both be competitive and represent communities of interest. He voiced displeasure with the Skaggs-Davis Map in Jackson County and that it wasn’t a good starting point for Eastern Jackson County. He mentioned competitive districts are around 55-45. Then the entire thing kind of dragged a bit when the members of the committee found that the Clay and Platte districts are exclusively based on competitiveness and Johnson noted that another team member worked on those districts. Also a discussion over what the 2008 data entailed for his map and their own data ensued.
Sally Miller, a former Republican candidate in the 44th district, followed that up by suggesting that the 44th lose the Southeastern areas and move north.
Chris Medina and former State Rep. Paul Rojas closed by mentioning they liked the Skaggs-Davis Map in Northeastern KC but they disliked the West Side Kansas City mapping there.
All in all, a productive meeting. Lots of use of the phrases “good starting point” and “communities of interest”. The Republican map is still lurking somewhere in the Missouri River. The Democrats are praising the Skaggs-Davis Map but noting areas that will need to be changed. The commission plans to try and get a lot of stuff online in a digital form by June or July. They also note that maps have to be approved by August 18th.
I left and missed out on the Senate hearing, but when I see a transcript, i’ll go over it and note anything of interest there.
So it’s the Redistricting Summer in Missouri. Feel the excitement.