Commissioners discuss Kansas Senate redistricting

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners debated whether the county should have its own state Senate district.

Currently, Leavenworth County is split into two state Senate districts. The 5th Senate District includes the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing as well as a portion of Wyandotte County. District 3 includes the rest of Leavenworth County as well as a portion of Douglas County.

During a County Commission meeting last week, Commissioner Mike Stieben suggested the county is large enough to make up one single district instead being split among two districts.

Commissioners discussed last week having a letter drafted that expresses support for the idea.

But Commission Chairman Mike Smith said Wednesday he would like more time to think about the idea.

The idea of a single state Senate district for Leavenworth County is being discussed by commissioners as state lawmakers prepare to redraw legislative districts based on data from the 2020 census. Lawmakers will be working on redistricting during next year's legislative session.

Last week, members of redistricting committees from the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate conducted a town hall meeting in Leavenworth.

Stieben spoke during that meeting in favor of Leavenworth County having its own state Senate district.

During Wednesday's County Commission meeting, Stieben said he has been informed that the target size for a state Senate district is about 75,000 people. Leavenworth County has a population of about 82,000.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said she does not want the county to lose having two representatives in the Kansas Senate in favor of the county having its own single district.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said he initially thought it would be a good idea for the county to have its own district. But he now thinks it would be better for the area to have two representatives.

With Leavenworth County being split between districts, the county could end up being represented by two state senators who live outside the county, Stieben argued.

Currently, the 5th District is represented by state Sen. Jeff Pittman, who lives in Leavenworth. The 3rd District is represented by state Sen. Tom Holland, who lives in Douglas County.

"We're the sixth largest county in the state," Stieben said. "It seems like we should be represented."

Smith said commissioners will be revisiting the issue in the future.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a five-year lease agreement with Foley Equipment, Kansas City, Missouri, for three Caterpillar motor graders. The county will be charged $95,341 per year to lease the three machines.

• Received quarterly reports from representatives of the Buildings and Grounds Department and the Public Works Department.