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With the threat of Hardin County being fractured into six legislative districts and Radcliff into three or four, Radcliff Councilman Stan Holmes suggested residents get angry and proactive.
“Tell them this plan is not going to work for us,” Holmes said of the Kentucky General Assembly, which convenes Aug. 19 to redraw House and Senate district boundaries to meet the shifting populations outlined in the 2010 Census. An attempt last year to do so failed after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled both plans unconstitutional.
The House approved another plan earlier this year that divides Hardin County and forces its precincts to share boundary lines with neighboring counties such as Breckinridge, Grayson, Meade and Bullitt in larger chunks than before.
In Radcliff’s case, Holmes said at a forum Monday, slivers of the city could be absorbed into districts dominated by the populations of other counties. He thinks that action would dilute Radcliff’s collective voice and invite potential for the city to be represented by a legislator from another county.
“We’re worth more than just 25 percent of votes (in a district),” he said.
Holmes urged residents attending the meeting at Colvin Community Center to write letters and sign a petition opposing any intention to divide Radcliff and Hardin County so drastically. A copy of the petition is available at Radcliff City Hall, the north branch of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, T-Mart off Blackjack Road and Jordan’s Window Tinting, he said.
Holmes also encouraged constituents to call or email legislators and advocated the use of Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness about the plan.
“If we don’t try, we know what will happen,” he said. “Nothing for us.”
Holmes, who has aspirations one day to run for the legislature, said dividing Radcliff into as many as four districts would impact what the city could gain in terms of school and road funding, jobs and economic opportunities.
Mayor J.J. Duvall said tossing Radcliff haphazardly into a district with a rural county like Meade does not mesh with the core values of an urbanized city.
State Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, said contacting a handful of legislators is not enough: He urged the crowd to contact everyone in the Kentucky General Assembly.
Parrett has made vocal his disgust with the redistricting process because he said it focuses on gaining or keeping seats for the ruling political party rather than addressing the numbers and making sure the process is fair and communities stay as whole as possible.
“This is the ugly part of politics in Frankfort and Washington,” Parrett said.
Parrett, as well as state Rep. Tim Moore, have offered bills that require the legislature to turn the responsibility of drafting district maps over to an impartial panel which would focus solely on the numbers. So far their efforts have proven futile, but Parrett said he plans to reintroduce the bill and believes it would hold muster constitutionally if passed.
Should the “political shenanigans” carry over into the special session, he said, he expects the legislature will forfeit to federal judges the right to draw the maps.
“If that’s what it takes to get it done, let’s do it,” Parrett said. “This should have been done a long time ago.”
Former state Rep. Mike Weaver said he believes nothing short of a lawsuit will stop the legislature from carving Radcliff to pieces.
Moore, R-Elizabethtown, would be deeply impacted by the plan proposed by the House earlier this year because his home falls outside of the 26th District, which he now serves.
Moore said political posturing during redistricting makes it one of the most politically contentious activities in Frankfort. He said legislators are fueled by how changes affect them rather than how they impact the communities they were elected to serve.
As a result, he does not expect to see a finished plan from the House or Senate until the day they vote.
“That’s not right,” he said. “That’s not good government.”