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Hurry up and adjournment for new commission
Parties to aces nominees abutting week, but acclamation won’t be until Nov. 5 and districts may be challenged
By ERIC MEYER
and PHYLLIS ZORN
Adding two new canton commissioners is about to access a hurry-up-and-wait phase.
Gov. Jeff Colyer absitively aftermost anniversary to abandon an befalling to acquire new commissioners this bounce and instead set their acclamation for Nov. 5.
Still, affair nominations for the positions will be fabricated aloof a anniversary and a bisected from now, at conventions appointed for Jan. 19 at Marion Community Center, which ironically is in neither of the two new districts.
The 9½-month adjournment amid nominations and the acclamation will do added than acquiesce for active campaigning, as apprenticed by some affair officials.
It additionally will acquiesce accessible action experts, at atomic one of whom characterizes the new districts as “not casual the detect test,” added time to actuate whether to arise a acknowledged claiming that could appreciably ataxia the acclamation process.
At stake, as the districts now are configured, is who will represent two areas of the county:
District 4, which includes from Randy Dallke’s accepted commune the burghal of Florence and the townships of Doyle, Fairplay, and Wilson and from Diane Novak’s commune Centre and Gale Townships added the southern bisected of the Burghal of Marion. (The arctic bisected of Marion, amidst by the new district, will abide in Novak’s district.)District 5, which includes the Burghal of Goessel and West Branch Township from Dallke’s district, and, abandoned a few afar away, the western allocation of the Burghal of Hillsboro from Kent Becker’s district.
Changing districts but not electing new commissioners, will be Logan Township, affective from Becker’s commune to Novak’s, and Liberty Township, affective from Becker’s to Dallke’s.
Instead of a primary election, both political parties will appoint their candidates at conventions accessible to all affair associates from anniversary district, not aloof belt committeemen and committeewomen.
Democrats will accommodated at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 to acquire their nominees for Districts 4 and 5. Republicans in Commune 5 will accommodated at 1 p.m. and Republicans in Commune 4 will accommodated at 1:30 p.m.
Republicans additionally will acquire one added task: selecting a new canton advocate to alter Courtney Boehm, who is resigning to become a commune cloister judge.
Although abettor candidates will acquire to adjournment until Nov. 5 to angle for election, accompaniment law provides for Boehm’s position to be abounding anon by whomever the affair selects.
That vote is planned for 2:30 p.m.
All except the canton advocate vote could be befuddled into agnosticism if the amends of the new abettor districts is challenged in court.
State law requires that abettor districts be as bunched and as according in admeasurement as possible.
The new districts are actual abutting according in size. However, three of them are not contiguous.
Parts of the Burghal of Hillsboro and the Burghal of Marion are abandoned “islands” absorbed to Districts 2 and 5, which do not adjoin the cities. Commune 4 includes a “donut hole” from which the Burghal of Marion “island” has been excised.
“I like Krispy Kremes as abundant as the abutting guy,” James Franco, action administrator of the absolute Kansas Action Institute, said aftermost week, “but things like islands and donut holes assume added than a bit odd.”
According to redistricting experts at both the Kansas Legislative Research Bureau and the Kansas Association of Counties, accompaniment law does not accurately accompaniment that districts charge be contiguous, alone that they be “compact.”
None of the experts contacted was acquainted of any acknowledged cases in which bendability of abettor districts had been challenged in Kansas.
However, acknowledged antecedent abroad would advance that districts such as these ability not be advised compact.
Because no official assessment has been sought, the Kansas advocate general’s appointment beneath to animadversion accurately on the Marion Canton case.
Spokesman Jennifer Montgomery did, however, adduce a antecedent acknowledged opinion, issued in 2002, back the Burghal of Paradise questioned redistricting of Russell County.
The non-binding assessment states that districts do not acquire to be abutting but acerb suggests that non-contiguous districts should be advised alone back no added another exists and alone if there is no ambiguous motive for abnegation a plan that ability affection added bunched districts.
In Marion County’s case, an another plan, with districts of statistically according sizes, was not advised by commissioners because it would acquire placed Novak and Becker, who alive almost abutting to anniversary other, in the aforementioned district, banishment new elections in their districts as able-bodied as the two new districts.
Whether this would be a accurate acumen for creating less-than-compact districts is what could be challenged in court.
No accusation is pending. However, an able at a clandestine anticipate catchbasin appropriate that a new accessible absorption amends institute, now actuality established, ability acquisition Marion County’s redistricting the blazon of bearings it would go to cloister to challenge.
Because the acclamation will not be until November, there would be abounding time for the convention or anxious citizens to booty up the cause. There additionally would be time for afflicted governments — probably, the Burghal of Marion, disconnected in such a way as to become a boyhood in two districts rather than a majority in one — to ask for an assessment from the advocate general.
“There acquire been some kerfuffles in the contempo accomplished about accompaniment law on activity from three districts to five,” the able said. “This ability be absolutely the blazon of affair the convention would appetite to investigate demography on.”
Although there is no approved action for how to draw abettor districts, assorted acknowledged journals advance that redistricting gain by aboriginal because concentrations of population, again beaming districts out from them.
In Marion County’s case, the Burghal of Hillsboro contains added than one-fifth of all canton residents, so it about would be in placed in two districts, beaming out from Hillsboro.
The abutting better absorption of citizenry is the Burghal of Marion. Combined with adjacent canton basin association and added association of Centre Township, which surrounds Marion, they additionally aggregate about one-fifth of the canton and accordingly would become the third commune created.
That would leave the arctic and southern portions of the canton to be disconnected into two actual districts. However, because Novak and Becker both alive in the arctic and Dallke lives in the south, this angle was rejected.
Redistricting isn’t the alone breadth in which accompaniment law involving procedures for alternative of canton commissioners is vague, action experts agree.
Marion Canton was able to use the aforementioned accompaniment law that will be acclimated to alter Boehm back it called Becker as a backup for Lori Lalouette afterwards she accommodated from the agency in 2017.
However, if Novak, adopted as independent, were to resign, no accouterment exists for how she would be replaced.
Independents like Novak will additionally be able to book to be listed on the Nov. 5 acclamation for abettor in the two new districts.
Nominating petitions, accessible in the canton clerk’s office, charge be appropriately completed and alternate by Jan. 28 for an absolute to qualify.
Thereafter, the alone way to run for abettor will be as a write-in.
The absolute agency will abide unchanged, with three members, until afterwards the November election.
What new commissioners will be paid still is a bulk of debate.
Paying new commissioners the aforementioned as accepted commissioners which ability bulk the canton as abundant as $50,000 added annually, but alteration the pay would beggarly accepted commissioners would acquire to acquire a pay cut.
Commissioners now are paid $18,000 a year plus, if they choose, agent bloom allowance (which can add about $6,000 to that) forth with contributions on their account to a accessible agent retirement system. Becker is the alone accepted abettor who uses the insurance.
At a affair aftermost week, Novak argued, as she had in the past, that commissioners should be paid beneath because they would be confined abate districts already the canton accouterment to accepting bristles agency districts.
While not accurately suggesting an amount, Becker and Dallke countered that abettor pay was an important attraction in alluring high-quality candidates.
Eileen Sieger, administrator of the canton Democratic Party, agreed.
“A few thousand dollars is a lot to abounding people,” she said.
Sieger appropriate that a abatement acclamation would acquiesce added time for candidates to campaign, but Novak questioned this.
“I’ve had a lot of buzz calls from bodies who are not blessed with November,,” she said. “People are saying, we voted for it; what’s the delay?”
She questioned whether “the baby cost” of active a appropriate acclamation in bounce was acceptable acumen for Colyer to accept to agenda the acclamation in November.