The Douglas County Commission today redrew its commission district boundaries by shifting five precincts totaling almost 10,000 people, all within the city of Lawrence.
By a 2-1 vote, the commission approved a plan presented by Commissioner Mike Amyx. Commissioner Louie McElhaney voted against the plan, preferring his own proposal that would have moved only three precincts involving 5,914 people.
In the adopted plan, McElhaney's 3rd District loses three precincts and 5,733 people to Commission Chairman Mark Buhler's 1st District. Buhler picked up the 12th precinct of the 2nd ward in west Lawrence along with the 1st and 2nd precincts of the 2nd ward in the Oread Neighborhood.
In turn, Buhler gave up two precincts and 4,110 people in East Lawrence to Amyx's 2nd District. These precincts were the 3rd and 4th precincts in the 4th ward.
The 1st District now will have almost all the precincts north of 15th and west of Massachusetts streets. The 3rd District will be primarily south of 15th Street and west of Iowa Street.
The changes were required after the 1990 census showed a population imbalance in the three commission districts. The 1990 census tabulated 81,798 residents in the county. Dividing that number by three, the number of county commission districts, the ideal number represented by each commissioner would by 27,266.
The new districts come close to that ideal. Amyx's 2nd District becomes the largest in population with 27,763 residents. Buhler's 1st District will have 27,206 residents, and 26,829 people now live in McElhaney's 3rd District.
Prior to the redistricting, McElhaney had 32,562 residents, Buhler had 25,583 residents and Amyx had 23,653 residents.
Amyx explained that his plan allowed "room for growth." He noted that McElhaney's district, which encompasses western Douglas County, will probably have the most growth in the future.
"The 1st District will remain pretty much constant," Amyx said. "It allows the 3rd District to continue to grow, assuming that's going to happen, and it gives almost a 500 population count (more than the average) to the 2nd district, assuming it may grow the least over the next 10 years."