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The state of Idaho’s redistricting commission just split apart the district that represented the southeastern Idaho counties of Franklin, Oneida, Caribou and Bear Lake.

“Franklin and Oneida counties will not have representation for at least 10 years,” said Scott Workman, chairman of what was Legislative District 32.

Franklin County is now represented by District 28, which includes Bannock County except for the city of Pocatello, which is its own district (No. 29) — up to Fort Hall and Power County.

Oneida County has been thrown in with Minidoka and Cassia counties for District 27.

Bear Lake and Caribou counties are with another part of Bannock County for District 35.

The counties of Caribou, Franklin, Bear Lake, and Oneida have been in the same legislative district since 2011 (the current legislative map). Before 2011, under the legislative maps adopted by the 2001 redistricting commission, Franklin, Caribou, and Bear Lake counties were in District 31 along with Teton County and part of Bonneville County. Oneida County was in District 27 along with Cassia County, Power County, and part of Bonneville County, said Jacob Miller, director of communications and external affairs of the Idaho Republican Party.

At one redistricting hearing, Franklin County commissioners Dirk Bowles and Robert Swainston represented Franklin County. Workman said he represented the county at another hearing.

Last Wednesday, the six-member bipartisan redistricting panel posted and discussed its third draft of the legislative and congressional divisions. The panel voted unanimously on Friday for the legislative plan and 4-2 in favor of the congressional plan.

Franklin County is in Congressional District 2, along with Blaine, Butte, Bannock, Bingham, Bonneville, Bear Lake, Cassia, Camas, Clark, Custer, Caribou, Elmore, Franklin, Fremont, Gooding, Jerome, Lemhi, Lincoln, Minidoka, Madison, Twin Falls, Teton, Power and Oneida Counties.

“Those four southeastern Idaho counties (Franklin, Bear Lake, Caribou and Oneida) were reorganized in the commission’s new legislative map (L03) to account for population growth across the state,” Miller said. “The target for the redistricting commission first and foremost is to keep population deviations as close to the ideal population as possible, based on the 2020 census data. Since the redistricting commission is constitutionally bound by equal protection requirement, also known as the ‘one person, one vote’ standard, it must ensure that maps are drawn that attempt to limit populations as much as possible.”

Due to the rapid population growth in Idaho over the past 10 years, the new boundaries allow for these constitutional criteria to be met while making the best attempt to keep historical communities of interest whole, he continued.

Local leaders are disappointed in the redistricting plan.

“I am not happy with the proposal,” Preston Mayor Dan Keller said. “I don’t think anyone down here would be. To tie us with American Falls and Fort Hall — they have nothing in common with us.”

Keller continued, “Obviously everyone is not going to be happy. But, it seemed there used to be a plan. They’ve gerrymandered it so we are contiguous, but there used to be some element of commonality (within a district).”

Although much of Pocatello is its own district, its suburbs are in District 28 with rural Franklin County.

“There’s no remedy or solution, but once again, we are being ignored in this part of the state,” Keller said.

“I think it’s a shame what they’ve done to our counties,” Franklin County Commissioner Dirk Bowles said.

Commissioners from Caribou, Bear Lake, Franklin and Oneida counties testified of the importance of keeping the counties together.

“I feel worse for Oneida County,” Bowles said. “They have been in this situation before and felt like they were without representation. But I could tell (the commission) had a lot of issues to deal with other than our counties. It is what it is, and it will be interesting to see what they do.”

He noted, however, that the new district boundaries will not impede the esprit de corp amongst the four southernmost counties of the state.

“Nothing between the four counties will change,” he said. “We will still have our four-county meetings (three of the counties already work together for a landfill) and we will work together on a lot of things going forward.”

The problem, Bowles said, will be for local residents looking for name recognition at election time.

“It will be a big deal for those that want to serve,” he said.

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