New bill would elect Idaho county commissioners by district, shrinking scale of campaigns

Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, says his move to narrow the size of voting districts is not aimed at boosting Democrats' chances but to make county commissioners more sensitive to regional differences.

"It's to get people in those zones to have the ability to get true representation," Durst said Wednesday, after the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to print his bill.

Durst acknowledged that the powerful Idaho Association of Counties has told him they will oppose the measure. "They represent county commissioners, so I wouldn't expect them to support it. This isn't about what's best for the county commissioners, it's about what's best for the voter."

Under current law, county commissioners in Idaho's 44 counties have a residency requirement that ensures the three commissions come from separate geographical districts, with lines redrawn every decade to reflect population shifts and adhere to the U.S. Constitution's one-person, one-vote requirement.

But commissioners are elected by a county-wide vote. Durst wants to change that beginning in 2014, with vote totals in the candidates' respective districts determining the outcome.

Ada County has relative partisan balance in the Legislature, with the GOP controlling all three spots in Districts 14, 15, 20, 21 and 21, mostly outside the city of Boise. Democrats control the Boise districts, 16, 17, 18 and 19.

But all three county commissioners are Republican.

Durst said voting by district wouldn't have changed the makeup of the current Ada commission. "If they'd been elected by zone, the Republicans would still have been elected," Durst said. "That's important because I don't want people to think this is about Ada County being shifted."

Added Durst: "I think Democrats will lose some places where we have been strong. My friends from Latah County don't like this because they like that Moscow decides the outcome."

The current Ada County commissioner districts are:

District 1, covering the North and East ends of Boise, the Foothills and Central Bench.

District 2, Northwest Ada County, including Eagle, Star and north Meridian.

District 3, South Ada County, including Kuna, south Meridian and part of Southeast Boise.

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"Sen. Branden Durst,

"Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, says his move to narrow the size of voting districts is not aimed at boosting Democrats' chances but to make county commissioners more sensitive to regional differences."

Riiiiiight!

So if something works, change it. The old Socialist mantra. It will involve money and power, watch.

If something works, change it.

You must be referring to those socialist republicans who just had to close the primary elections.

So what? Did you ever fight a war like you gripe?

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

It ain't gonna fly anyway

It ain't gonna fly anyway you put lipstick on it.

He needs take his proposal to the county not to legislature.

AIC

The Idaho Association of Counties represents not only Commissioners, but Clerks, Sheriffs, Treasurers,Prosecutors and Assessors as well-i.e. All elected County officials. Sen. Durst needs to do a bit more research!

This is the same

I believe what Sen. Durst is proposing is using the same logic the state legislature employed when they changed the composition and election procedures for the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) several years ago (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If this is correct, then it appears Durst's proposal is consistent with past logic and precedent established by an earlier Republican-led state legislature.

The problem is his proposal

The problem is his proposal appears to be within the county and that is different than the highway district whose boundaries are not set in stone.

He is gerrymandering.
FYI:
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander (/ˈɡɛrimændər/, alt. /ˈdʒɛriˌmændər/); however, that word can also refer to the process. When used to allege that a given party is gaining disproportionate power, the term gerrymandering has negative connotations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering

Additionally, those legislative districts have been determined by the just completed redistricting commission.

He's not gerryanything, even if he may be ignoring stuff.

Like federal election laws or something.

See, maybe they are all silly, regardless of party.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Ada County is Ada County

I'm not sure I fully understand your comment about Ada County. Durst's plan is for Ada County commissioners and the ACHD is the exact same geography - Ada County. I'm not sure who draws the boundaries for the ACHD commissioners, but the boundaries for the legislative districts are (and were) drawn by a bi-partisan commission - which is subject to less gerrymandering than one drawn by a partisan-led legislature. There are nine legislative districts in Ada County, four represented all by Democrats and five represented all by Republicans. If that results in one Commissioner seat where a Democrat would most likely win, one seat where a Republican would most likely win, and one competitive seat where a Republican would have the edge, that seems pretty fair and representative of the County's political composition.