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To divide Ada? Or move it into 1st CD, Canyon into 2nd CD?

Redistricting commissioners are taking a 15-minute break now after getting into something of a debate about whether it's better to not divide Ada County between the two congressional districts - instead moving all of Ada County into the 1st CD and all of Canyon County into the 2nd CD - or to stick with the traditional approach, dividing Ada and just moving the line a little further to the west to reflect population shifts.

"I've not heard any testimony from any citizens ... that said please cut up the city of Boise," said Co-Chairman Ron Beitelspacher. "I'm proud of what we did in this commission to come to those legislative districts, I really am. There are no towns, no cities that we've divided up, and we worked hard at that, and some of us, Commissioner Hansen in particular, I'm sure is going to take a beating over that but it was the right thing to do. And when it comes to the largest city in the state, everyone for the last 30 years has been anxious to take the saber and just whack it up in order to divide the state." He noted, "When you go door to door, people frequently have no clue what district they're in because it's so doggone confusing."

Commissioner Randy Hansen said he's worried that the proposed new lines would reduce the political equity in the 1st CD, which has seen "three close elections." He said, "I'm just concerned that by completely changing the dynamics of that, that there might not be the equity that there currently is in that district."

Commissioner Elmer Martinez called it "a matter of integrity" to keep cities and communities together in districts. "That effort made so much sense," he said. "I think that same level of integrity in keeping communities whole and cities whole shouldn't change because we're doing congressional lines vs. legislative lines."

Commissioner Sheila Olsen said she'd like to go back and study the public testimony the previous commission received about the congressional district split, since this panel didn't get a lot. Just moving the existing line to the west again, she said, "I believe ... would be less disruptive. Even though there is some confusion, but people can learn. It's less disruptive to move the line a few blocks than the whole county ... into the 1st District."

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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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