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Census 2010: Redistricting is coming up

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County is now part of state’s largest districts

By Todd Martin

The U.S. Census Bureau released the national redistricting data Thursday morning, and voting districts around the county should brace for a change.

States are mandated to redistrict after a census, and work will start soon, although you won't see it at the polls until 2012.

Shelby County, with a population of 42,074, currently resides in two of the state's largest legislative districts.

At 55,670, District 58 - Shelby and Spencer counties - is the fifth largest out of 100 House districts in the state, and Senate District 20 - Bullitt, Shelby and Spencer counties - is the fourth largest of 38, with 133,454 residents.

Two of the districts larger than District 58 are located in Jefferson County, one in Boone County and the other a combination of Fayette and Scott counties. Northern Kentucky has the largest Senate District, 11, comprising Boone, Gallatin and Kenton counties, and another northern district, 17, is also larger. The second largest is comprised of Carroll, Oldham, Jefferson, Henry and Trimble counties.

But before legislators get into digesting and reslicing that pie, there first will be changes within Shelby County.

Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry said Shelby County Fiscal Court will be charged with getting the countywide districting started next month.

"In May, fiscal court will appoint a committee to redraw the [magisterial] districts to make them as equal as possible," she said. "The county clerk is on the committee, not as a voting member but in an advisory role. Each district can't be more than 10 percent larger [more populous] than the others."

However, once Fiscal Court finishes those district lines, it doesn't mean they're set.

"We can't change the districts until after the state legislature changes the state districts in 2012," she said.

State more complicated

And that's where it gets convoluted.

The state requires the counties to do their work before the House and Senate do theirs. But, when the General Assembly gets down to work, it based its own redistricting plans off the old districts.

And voting precincts cannot overlap magisterial districts or state legislative districts.

"So, if Shelby County is split into two legislative districts [which it is not right now], we may have go back [a second time] and alter our districts," Perry said.

However, with the size of Shelby County's State Senate District 20 and State House District 58, that could happen.

"The way I understand it, and this is my first shot with redistricting, too, is that we are within the size of becoming a standalone district," District 58 Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) said. "And that would be great. I'd love to have just Shelby County, but we certainly could be split."

Montell said politics would play a part in the redistricting, so it's very hard to tell what will happen.

"The House, which is controlled by Democrats, is going to look at this politically, and the Republican-led Senate will, too," he said. 'I don't see the Senate splitting Shelby County. I think Paul [Hornback (R-Shelbyville)] will continue to represent all of Shelby County, and I'm sure he'll do every thing he can to help Shelby County stay together in the House, too."

Montell will get his say, and he hopes it carries enough weight.

"I will have some input on our district, but I don't know how influential it will be," he said.

Federal changes, too

And U.S. congressional seats will also get another look soon, based on figures released Thursday.

Shelby County currently falls in Congressional District 2, the largest in the state with a population of more than 760,000, which recently re-elected Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green) to the U.S. House of Representatives for a second term.

Guthrie's region encompasses as far south as Bowling Green and Glasgow, east to Campbellsville and Shelbyville and west to Owensboro.

District 6 - Georgetown, Frankfort, Lexington, Stanford and Stanton - is the second largest, with about 759,000.

District 4 - Oldham County, Northern Kentucky and west to the border with West Virginia - and District 3 - Louisville/Jefferson County - are both also over 720,000.