Local testimony needed at redistricting session

The House and Senate Committees on Redistricting announced a schedule of 12 joint public hearings across the state to hear from local residents about how to redraw the legislative and Congressional district boundaries. Every 10 years, the Legislature is charged with redrawing legislative and Congressional districts to reflect the growth of Oregon’s population and the movement of people within the state.

The public hearing for Jackson and Klamath Counties will be held this Friday, Apr. 1, from noon to 3 p.m. in Higher Ed Center at RCC, in downtown Medford.

The 2010 Census data released in late February shows that Oregon has grown by 409,675 people since the last census in 2000. The public hearings will provide Oregonians across the state with an opportunity to discuss the redistricting process and how legislative and Congressional districts may change as a result of population changes since 2000.

The Oregon Legislature has the responsibility of redrawing the state’s 60 House districts and 30 Senate districts, as well as the five U.S. Congressional districts.

Criteria for redistricting is part of Oregon law and includes:
•Be contiguous
•Be of equal population
•Utilize existing geographic or political boundaries
•Not divide communities of common interest
•Be connected by transportation links

Population growth in Jackson County has been 12% since 2000, with the county now at 203,206.  Eagle Point ranks seventh in the state in percent of growth. The increase is 76.55 %, reflecting a 2000 population of 4,797 and current population of 8,469. Some counties have experienced increased growth while others have decreased.

The population change could well mean a change in the makeup of various districts in Oregon, including House District 55, Senate District 28 and U.S. House District 5.

Testimony will be taken at the Apr. 1 hearing.

Community of interest is something that local people can and should address before the House and Senate representatives on the redistricting committee. Examples of communities of interest are such things as: Common school districts–imagine the confusion if District 9 had some issues and the state decided to divide the Upper Rogue into two or more sections. Roads, highways, shopping, medical, are other examples of items of importance to the entire Upper Rogue. Those issues are also common with Klamath Falls, as well.

Representatives of the City of Eagle Point including City Administrator Dave Hussell, School District 9, the Eagle Point-Upper Rogue Chamber of Commerce, and Eagle Point Mayor Bob Russell are among those expected to testify in support of keeping the Upper Rogue whole. 

“The Legislature has a unique opportunity to pass a fair and bipartisan redistricting plan this year,” said House Redistricting Committee Co-Chair Shawn Lindsay (R-Hillsboro). “To accomplish a fair and bipartisan plan, Oregonians need to be involved throughout the process. We need Oregonians to share their ideas and concerns about their future representation in Salem and Washington, D.C. With valuable citizen input, I’m confident we can produce a fair plan for Oregon over the next ten years.

There are a several representatives and senators on the redistricting committee. To send information by mail they are all at 900 Court St. NE, Salem, OR 97301. Individual    information:
Sen. Chris Telfer- S 423 or christelfer@state.or.us,
Sen. Suzanne Bonamici-S 403 or sen.suzannebonamici@state.or.us
Rep Shawn Lindsay H-488 or rep.shawnlindsay@state.or.us
Rep. Chris Garrett- H377 or rep.chrisgarrett@state.or.u s
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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