One-third of county’s residents were shifted into a new legislative district

By Bill Felber

Nearly one-third of Riley County residents were moved into new legislative districts when judges released revised maps last week.

The precise figures have not yet been released by the office of the Secretary of State. But based on a preliminary analysis of old and new maps, it appears that about 23,533 county residents were impacted by the restructuring of legislative maps. The population of the county is 71,115.

More than half of the residents who changed districts were moved into the 64th District, which has been represented by Rep. Vern Swanson, a Clay Center Republican. The judges expanded that district to encompass the northern and southwestern portions of Riley County including the cities of Ogden, Leonardville, Riley and Randolph. The Riley County portions of Fort Riley were also included, as was the developing area along Scenic Drive south of Anderson Avenue and west of Kimball. In total, more than 14,000 county residents appear to have been drawn into the 64th District, meaning that Riley County constitutes about 60 percent of the entire district.

Many of those moved into the 64th were previously in the 106th District represented by Sharon Schwartz, a Washington Republican. Schwartz’s district now does not have any Riley County area. But more than 10,000 appear to have been shifted from Rep. Tom Phillips’ 67th District, including about 8,300 who live on post.

Phillips’ district also picked up nearly 6,000 new in-city constituents, most in swaps of precincts with 66th District Rep. Sydney Carlin, who gained nearly 3,000.

Within the city limits, these were the most significant changes numerically:

1. Ward 5-11, the area bounded by Browning, Kimball and Seth Child, was moved from Carlin’s district to Phillips’. That affects 3,311 residents.

2. The area south of Poyntz, with about 2,300 residents, was moved from Phillips’ district into Carlin’s.

3. Wards 5-5, bounded by College, Anderson, Dickens and Seth Child, and 5-7, bounded by College, Kimball, Dickens and Browning, were moved from Carlin’s 66th District into Phillips’ 67th. About 2,400 residents were affected by these moves, among them Lee Modesitt, the Republican choice to run against Carlin.

County clerk Rich Vargo said Monday that the Secretary of State’s office has advised his staff not to expect formal numbers to be released prior to the end of the week or early next week. They must be in hand in time for election officials to prepare ballots to meet a June 23 federal deadline for sending them to voters who live overseas.

“We knew we were going to be in the center of it,” Vargo said.

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