A shift in population means a shift in boundaries for Douglas County commissioners.
In a 2-1 vote, county commissioners approved to redistrict the county so population numbers would be more evenly distributed. About 7,000 registered voters will be affected.
The commissioners approved a map proposed by Chairman Mike Gaughan, a Democrat from District 1. The new boundaries follow major street and neighborhood boundaries, such as Massachusetts Street and Interstate 70. And each district now has between 36,900 and 36,999 residents.
District 1 is entirely within Lawrence, District 2 represents the eastern half of the county and District 3 is the western half.
The plan that passed Wednesday night gives Gaughan’s district more of northwestern and southwestern Lawrence and expands District 2, which is represented by Democrat Nancy Thellman, into eastern Lawrence.
Jim Flory, a Republican who represents District 3, opposed the new map. He favored a proposal that would have only moved two precincts, shifting some voters living southwest of 15th and Iowa streets from his district to Gaughan’s district. District 2 would have remained unchanged.
“Why do all that when we can achieve a compact equitable district without all (the changes)?” Flory asked.
But Gaughan said Flory’s map divided several neighborhoods, such as those around Sunset Hill and east Lawrence.
“We made an effort to create districts that made sense geographically, were close to each other in terms of population and that attempted to unify neighborhoods,” Gaughan said.
The shift in County Commission boundaries is the first in many political districts that are expected to change with updated census numbers.
Changes in state and congressional districts are expected to follow. By law, the county has to re-examine districts every 10 years.