Care must be given to five member maps

There will be five members on the county commission even if no one quite knows how to get there yet. I am not sure this was a good idea or not, but one thing we know to be for certain is that the drawing of the districts will need to be done with absolute care.

Personally, I would have rather seen the whole picture before the election, but since that isn’t the case, we must trust that a map will be done properly.

I would like to see the commission take a few things into account while creating the map to define how the county will be governed.

1. Population matters. The map should not be drawn based on miles but rather based on population density. You don’t want the few having a majority over the many.

When I covered the Haven School District, they had a problem with their school board. Haven had the most students and the largest population, yet didn’t have a majority on the school board because all the smaller areas of the district banded together “Survivor” style and had a combined majority.

That way, when bond issues came along or improvements were made throughout the district, the smaller, less populated areas got far better treatment than the more populated Haven.

Now, the district has two nearly new grade schools sitting empty in very small towns, with a grade school in Haven serving the majority of the district that was built in the ’50s. How does that happen? By poor district mapping. Marion County will not want to make this mistake.

The lesser populated areas deserve representation, but not at the expense of the majority of the county’s citizens.

2. The map should be set to review at a certain time based on effectiveness.

Marion County is going into uncharted territory right now. There is no guarantee that the first map will be the right map. If possible, the mapping should be set to be evaluated in 5-10-15 years to see if it is effective or not and is representative of the county as a whole.

3. No matter what, the county commissioners need to understand that this county should be viewed as one big community that has to work together. There is no winning in Marion County without cooperation and understanding. That doesn’t have a lot to do with the map, but it is something that should be thought about while making decisions about it.

4. Look at how other counties have gone about this change and see what worked for them. There aren’t a lot of neighboring counties that will have five commissioners–outside of Sedgwick County–and that situation is far different, but there are a few, and reaching out probably makes some sense.

This vote, with so little decided before the election, wasn’t about three or five commissioners but rather was a referendum on how the majority of the county feels about the effectiveness of the commission.

County voters are clearly frustrated and want to see some change. That should be taken to heart.

– Joey Young, Publisher