To the editor:
Friday morning, I attended a redistricting town hall meeting at the Dole Institute of Politics where a number of local residents voiced their opinions about next year’s statutorily mandated redrawing of congressional, state Senate, board of education and state House districts.
Based on citizen feedback at the meetings, as well as conversations I’ve had with community leaders, there is a real desire to see the city reunited in one congressional district. If you remember, 10 years ago, the Legislature split Lawrence between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts. In general, residents living east of Iowa remained in the 3rd with Wyandotte and Johnson counties while everyone else moved into the 2nd with Manhattan and Topeka.
By dividing Lawrence, the Legislature broke apart a community of interest and severely diluted our political voice on important issues like higher education, economic development, and transportation. At the time, both the City of Lawrence and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce openly spoke out against the Legislature’s plan, but to no avail. In the end, the state’s congressional map landed in federal court and the August primary was nearly postponed.
The last thing Lawrence needs is a repeat of 2002. By placing the city in the same congressional district, the Legislature would strengthen
Lawrence’s political power in Topeka and Washington, D.C., for the next 10 years, helping us fight for local businesses, our Regents universities, and public schools.
Reuniting Lawrence isn’t just the right decision for our city, it’s the right decisions for our state.