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Commissioners ‘buck’ election board’s plan

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners approved the election board’s recommendation on Dec. 5 for the new county council district map but did not approve its recommendation for the commissioners’ map. Instead, the board voted to keep the district map the same as it has been for the last 10 years.
After each census (every 10 years), counties are required to revisit council and commissioner districts.
The proposed district lines, based on population, would have added Webster and Franklin townships to District 3, the southern most district in the county.
Jim Klinstiver is the current District 3 commissioner.
The district would have become the largest in size, but the population would have been as close to equally spread out through the three districts as possible.
The commissioners were more concerned with equal road mileage, something the election board did not look at, than population.
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes, District 2, said his district would lose quite a bit of road mileage, which would change the way the highway department operates with employees assigned to certain districts, usually the ones in which they live.
Election board president Larry Shickles said separating districts by population is important to equalize the opportunity to run for office.
As it stands, District 2 has more than 18,000 residents while District 3 has just 6,881. District 1 has a population of 14,867.
‘That’s why they have a primary (election),’ Mathes said.
He said he didn’t want to change anything with the commissioners’ district, because the road miles are quite equal as is, and it would be a big change with the proposed districts.
District 2 has the most road mileage, with 290 miles; District 1 has 267, and District 3 has 259.
Mathes made the motion to keep the districts the same, and Commissioner James Goldman, who said he didn’t agree with the equal-chance-to-run argument, seconded. He said anyone can run for office if they wish to do so.
The council district changes include the addition of a piece of Harrison Township (District 3) to both District 4 and District 1 to equalize the population.
The election board said they’ve already started the process of notifying voters of their new precincts and voting locations for 2012, which may or may not change, depending on the precinct.

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