Kootenai objects to being split
Kootenai County commissioners plan to sue over Idaho’s new legislative district plan, saying they object to a proposed large district that would take in a 5,000-person chunk of the county and pair it with others to the south and east.
“We just didn’t think that was right,” said Commission Chairman Todd Tondee. “Our county can be kept whole, and we would like it to be kept whole for our citizens.”
The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to join in a legal challenge being prepared by Twin Falls County, which also objects to the way it would be split between districts. Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said he plans to file the challenge in the Idaho Supreme Court today.
“There’ll be several more entities” joining in the case, Loebs said, including the cities of Twin Falls and Filer.
Loebs said he thinks the new legislative district plan is unconstitutional because it splits counties for reasons other than preserving the U.S. Constitution’s one-person, one-vote rule. His county is split into three districts, in part because Idaho’s redistricting commission kept its largest city, Twin Falls, in a single district, as it did for communities around the state.
“The Constitution doesn’t mention cities at all,” Loebs told The Spokesman-Review. “They say, ‘Well, we had to cut Twin Falls County into three districts because Twin Falls city is a community of interest, and we wanted to keep Twin Falls city as a whole and split the rest of the county to the four winds.’ ”
Tondee said Kootenai County is hopeful that joining Twin Falls County’s challenge will keep the legal costs down.
“We have enough population that we can have three districts and we don’t have to be split,” he added.
The proposal combines a piece of Kootenai County with all of Shoshone, Clearwater and Idaho counties into a new District 7.
Idaho’s new redistricting plan divides 11 of Idaho’s 44 counties. Current legislative districts divide just seven counties but have been ruled unconstitutional by the Idaho Supreme Court due to population shifts that cause current districts to violate the one-person, one-vote rule.