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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow REDISTRICTING

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REDISTRICTING

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Under a legislative redistricting plan proposed by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury Monday, Senate President David Nelson would no longer represent Union and Wallowa counties, while House District 58 would take in the northern part of Grant County.

The new House district would get a new number District 60 and would not include any of Baker County, as some had speculated it might.

But La Grande, John Day and Enterprise, and points in between, would all be represented by the same House member. Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, now represents District 58, comprised of Wallowa, Union and part of Umatilla counties.

Under the draft plan, Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, whose District 28 now extends into suburban Portland, would see his boundaries shift, and he would represent almost all the voters in the eastern third of the state those in Malheur, Harney, Baker, Union, Wallowa and parts of Umatilla and Grant counties.

Present House District 57, which includes Hermiston and Pendleton, would shrink a little from the west side of Umatilla County and be renumbered District 54, according to the draft proposed by Bradbury.

Nelson, R-Pendleton, would no longer represent La Grande or Enterprise and would become the new senator for a north-central district that includes Wasco, Jefferson and east Crook counties.

Bradbury is required by the state constitution to come up with a legislative redistricting plan since the Legislature and governor could not do so by the July 1 deadline to reflect the shifts in population since the 1990 census. Observers feel that no matter what plan Bradbury ends up with, it will be challenged in court.

He is holding 20 hearings across the state to get public input on his draft plan.

Two hearings will be July 24 in Eastern Oregon. The first one is at noon at Pendleton City Hall, 501 S.W. Emigrant St., in the first-floor community room. The second is at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of the Baker County Library at 2400 Resort St., Baker City,

Public input is very important to the redistricting process, Bradbury said in a news release.

You are invited to attend the hearing so we can hear about what you want the redistrict plan to look like, he stated.

Bradbury held a news conference in Salem Monday and said, I literally have been working around the clock since July 1 to complete the huge task of reviewing the public record and drawing lines in order to complete this draft. This is the best possible draft plan I could create in 15 very short days.

He emphasized that it is indeed a draft and that he will be spending four weeks hearing what Oregonians have to say about what they want in the plan.

The Legislature failed to enact congressional reapportionment, so the responsibility for that falls directly on the court system without help from the secretary of state.

Those wanting more information can contact the Secretary of States Redistricting Office, 503-986-2324, or visit the Web site: www.sos.state.or.us/redistrict/redistrict.htm.

Comments may be submitted through the Web site.

I will work hard to ensure that as many Oregonians as possible have an unprecedented opportunity to tell me what they want their redistricting plan to look like, Bradbury said at the end of June after it became evident the Legislature could not pass a redistricting plan.

Bradbury emphasized that he did not speak about district lines with anyone, including legislators, outside of public hearings other than his staff.

There was no back room deals and no partisan bargaining, he said. My highest responsibility is to Oregons Constitution and law and to the people of Oregon and I take that very seriously. I am a hundred percent committed to creating a fair and legal redistricting plan that is guided by an open, public process.

I know it is not a perfect plan, Bradbury said. If the plan needs to be changed, Ill change it. If Ive made any mistakes, Ill fix them.

Bradbury said his draft plan follows the guidelines set 10 years ago by then Secretary of State Phil Keisling.

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