Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2002

Senate redistricting could leave Eudora odd man out

January 3, 2002

Reviewing the two maps said to be the blueprints for Kansas legislative redistricting, Eudora residents might well wonder when the city was annexed into Johnson County. A new plan for the Kansas House would strip Eudora from Lee Tafanelli's district and make it part of a new K-10 corridor district that would include parts of Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Lawrence and all of De Soto.

On the Senate side, Eudora would be part of a long tendril that would snake out from the 9th District's Olathe and Lenexa base to the doorsteps of Lawrence. Sen. Kay O'Connor of Olathe now holds the 9th District seat.

It is something of a mystery to us how Eudora can be swallowed up by a Johnson County district when that county gained 1.5 seats in the upper body and O'Connor's current district has to shrink by 10,000 people to make up for population gains in Olathe the past decade.

The Olathe Republican is of course the self-professed voucher lady whose pronouncements on women's suffrage have made her the butt of jokes on late-night television. In a recent interview, she told us that she had no problem with "country people," apparently from her snobbish chair in metropolitan Olathe. But our objections to the proposed Senate redistricting map do not concern O'Connor. State senators come and go, and O'Connor outrageous comments have surely assured her a tough re-election campaign in 2004.

Rather, our fear is Eudora will become the district's forgotten tail. Johnson County constituencies will have opportunities to develop legislative platforms through the Johnson County Council of Mayors, Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-America Regional Council and other bodies that would often exclude us. With the wealth and numbers in Johnson County, Senate candidates would have little reason to concern themselves with Eudora.

To a lesser degree, we have the same reservations about the proposed House district. But House districts are less than one-third the size of those in the Senate. Eudora's growing population will make it impossible to ignore. We agree there is a "community of interest in the K-10 corridor."

Both plans will be debated in the coming legislative session. The Eudora community needs to make its fears known, if for no other reason than to learn why they are unjustified.

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