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North Idaho senators propose redistricting plan

North Idaho Sens. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, have submitted a proposed redistricting plan for North Idaho that they say addresses concerns they've heard from their constituents, particularly about the current oddly-shaped District 2; you can see the plan here. Addressing only the North Idaho Panhandle, it does away with the backward-C-shaped District 2 in favor of a more compact District 2 that combines southern Bonner County with northern Kootenai County, including the Athol area. A new District 3 would take in the Post Falls area, and a new District 4 the Coeur d'Alene area; a new District 5 would include all of Benewah and Shoshone counties, the southern portion of Kootenai County including the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, and most of Latah County except for the Moscow area.

Keough and Broadsword noted that the plan would reunite the city of Priest River in District 1; reunite the city of Clark Fork in District 1; and allow for future growth by creating a District 4 in the center of the population area in Kootenai County. "This was just one more idea that we thought we'd put on the table for the redistricting commission to take a look at," Keough said.

Under the plan, Keough would stay in District 1 and Broadsword in District 2; though Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, would end up in the same district as Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, meaning the two would have to face off in a GOP primary if both wanted to stay in office. Also, District 4, which would be identical to the current District 4 with just the addition of the Dalton Gardens precinct, would have three incumbent representatives for its two seats: Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Marge Chadderdon, R-Coeur d'Alene; and Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d'Alene. Current Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, would end up in the new District 2, along with an open House seat.

Broadsword said, "District 2 has been such a boondoggle for the last 10 years." She noted that she has to drive through three other districts to get from one end of her district to the other. "It's not fair for the constituency - having someone who lives closer would be more beneficial for all," she said.

Idaho's bipartisan citizen redistricting commission will hold its final public hearing - its 14th - tonight in Meridian, from 7-9 p.m. at Meridian City Hall. The panel will start meeting to consider plans tomorrow at the state Capitol Auditorium.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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