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Eye On Boise

Harwood to redistricters: ‘I didn’t like what I seen’

State Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, told Idaho's citizen redistricting commission at its hearing in Coeur d'Alene tonight that his current district is “gerrymandered” - including moving one woman's ranch into District 1 because she didn't want to be in District 2. “There was a lot of gerrymandering that went on,” Harwood said. “Another thing that I feel is wrong is we're using the reservation as a boundary. I didn't complain about that last time and I kinda wish I would've, because I believe our law says that you have to use a visible road, or a crick. The reservation boundary … heaven knows where it's at sometimes.”

Harwood objected to the new district he'd be in under L-83, the plan reached by former redistricting commissioners after their deadline, saying it's just too big. “For me to serve Riggins, it'd take me about three and a half, four hours to get there for an hour meeting and then another three and a half, four hours to get back. It's just unserve-able,” he said.

The commissioners responded that they have no intention of engaging in gerrymandering. “There will be no ranch on the other side of the line just because somebody doesn't like the representation on the other side of the line,” declared Co-Chairman Ron Beitelspacher. “I don't know where anybody lives, I don't care where they live. … We have a difficult enough job to do, much less worrying about some legislator who may not run again. … It's foolish.” Co-Chair Dolores Crow said, “We are dedicated to do it the legal way, and when we start out to look at anything, it's with blinders on. We see nothing but the map and the roads and the way that our Constitution says it must be divided. That's kind of hard-nosed, but that's the way to stay out of court, and it saves a lot of money and time and effort and whatever.”

Harwood responded, “Plato said your silence gives consent, and I didn't want to be silent because I didn't like what I seen.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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