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Eye On Boise

Mon., June 27, 2011, 10:46 a.m.

Redistricting may come in ahead of schedule; could force two North Idaho senators to face off

Idaho's bipartisan citizen redistricting commission has now held 10 public hearings around the state, including four in North Idaho last week, and members say it's going well - so well that they've set a target of reaching a redistricting plan by July 27, a full month ahead of schedule. “The input we're getting from the public hearings has been excellent,” said commission Co-Chairman Allen Andersen, a Democrat from Pocatello. “It's given us insight. … A target date in July is achievable.” Said GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito of Boise, "I think we have a good chance of making that goal." He added, “We're hoping to have a 6-0 vote, that's our goal."

The numerous public hearings, including some in smaller communities like Sandpoint and Soda Springs, have been eye-openers for the commissioners. "We're really paying attention to public input," said GOP Co-Chairman Evan Frasure of Pocatello. "As you do that, it takes a lot of the political gamesmanship off the table."

Among the revelations from the hearings so far: North Idaho's District 2 is likely to be completely realigned, and that could mean that District 2 Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, ends up in District 1 - along with District 1 Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint. Even Broadsword told the commission the district has to change. "It isn't about seated legislators. It's about what's best for the citizens who live in those districts, what's easiest for them to be able to get to the polls and participate in the system," she said at the hearing in Sandpoint. "That's just the reality," Frasure said. "I think all of us are committed to do the right thing. ... She testified against her own legislative district."

The commission still has three more public hearings scheduled this week, in Burley, Twin Falls and Hailey; there's more info here, and you can read my full Sunday column here.

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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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