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State redistricting means big changes in Southeast Kansas - KOAM TV 7

State redistricting means big changes in Southeast Kansas

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Federal judges finalize new political maps in Kansas that mean big changes in Southeast Kansas.

Senators and House members are scrambling to adapt to these changes which were approved and released Thursday night.

The new maps have added and subtracted certain counties to new districts, opened up Senate and House seats, and they're also forcing politicians to quickly get into campaign mode.

Same lawmakers believe the changes were not necessary.

"It could have been avoided, yes," says Senator Bob Marshall, of the 13th District.  "The Senate and the House, had we done what we were supposed to this would not have happened, and we would have been pretty much the way we would have been before."

The new lines have shifted district boundaries and the numbers of constituents.

"It's about 72,000 people have to be in each Senators district," says Senator Marshall.  "I had about 67,000 people."

Senator Bob Marshall used to represent most of Bourbon County in the 13th District.  He's lost a majority of that county but has gained constituents in all of Cherokee County, which used to be split up between the 13th and 14th Districts.

"It's never good for the constituents to make a change because many don't understand the organization, and they don't understand how to find to make contact with someone," says Marshall.

Cherokee County Clerk Crystal Gatewood says having a single representative for their county will make things simpler.

"Explaining to voters 'no you live in the 13th district, you know, that isn't your senator, you need to call this person or that person,' now they will know they only have one senator, one representative," says Gatewood.

"I think it will be good having just one senator for the whole county instead of two different opinions," says Baxter Springs resident Angela Redden.  "One opinion's easier to get stuff done then going back and forth with two."

"As long as we get adequate representation, I don't have a problem with it," says Columbus resident Dennis Elbraden.

The new lines are not only changing and adding constituents, they're also putting Senators and House members in a race against opponents they wouldn't have had otherwise.

Marshall is now up against fellow Republican Jacob Lurner, a Cherokee County native.

Marshall says he's not the only Kansas lawmaker rushing to campaign.

"There will be 40 house districts that will have competing representatives, so yeah it's going to cause a lot of grief," Marshall says.

Senator Dwayne Umbarger used to represent Columbus and Baxter Springs in Cherokee County before it was moved from the 14th to the 13th District.

Umbarger has now been put into the 15th District  where he will run against fellow Republican incumbent, Jeff King.

Redistricting left the 14th District covering Wilson and Woodson County without a representative.  Today, John Grange from El Dorado filed to run for that seat.

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