On Oct. 14, Idaho’s second panel charged with redrawing Idaho’s political lines unanimously agreed on a plan. It took them less than a week to accomplish what the previous panel couldn’t agree on in 90 days.
Then the waiting began: the state has braced for legal challenges to the plan, and none have been filed yet.
But Twin Falls County rattled the first saber.
Last week, the county confirmed they were planning to file suit against the plan. What’s not as clear is the answer to the question, “Why?”
It’s true that the plan does split up the county: Folks in Filer and Buhl are lumped into a large district that stretches as far away as Mountain Home. Murtaugh and Hansen will look to Burley and Cassia County for legislative ties.
It’s not ideal, but it’s the best course of action. Numerically, it’s unconstitutional for Twin Falls County to all be in the same district — there are just too many people here to meet the target number.
The county has to be divvied up somehow. The zone created around the city and close-by areas of the county creates a district of common interests to the city of Twin Falls, and keeping our regional communities in the same zones (even if it’s not ours) after that is prudent.
In drafting this plan, we’re confident the three Republicans and three Democrats who unanimously agreed were able to move as fast as they did because they set politics aside and drew boundaries by the numbers.
We can’t say the same for our county leaders.
The move to challenge the plan smacks of partisan politics. Some officials say it lessens the Magic Valley’s clout in the Legislature, and we should shoot down the plan on that reason alone.
Therein lies a fundamental misunderstanding of the goals of redistricting: Suburban Boise and the eastern part of the state have boomed faster than Twin Falls. Mathematically speaking, their clout has grown at a greater rate, and their people deserve proportional representation.
As of Monday, Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs confirmed that the county hasn’t yet gotten around to filing the suit, but it’s still planning on it.
Loebs’ delay is making the state nervous. Candidates have to file for the 2012 election by March 9, but county clerks need to get voting systems in place well before then. An extended lawsuit could tie the whole plan up in the courts and make a mess of the 2012 race.
We have no interest in playing political games when a clock is ticking. Follow the example set by the second redistricting commission, and not the first: put aside partisanship, back the mathematically valid map, and let’s all move forward together.