By CJ BAKER
Tribune Staff Writer
When it comes time to pick their next state represenative or senator, Meeteetse area residents likely will no longer be able to vote with the rest of western Park County.
But unlike a previous proposal that would have split the community, a new plan will keep the Meeteetse area in the same legislative voting districts.
Big Horn Basin legislators will present their new redistricting plan to area residents at a meeting tonight (Thursday) in the Meeteetse Senior Citizens Center.
State Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody, Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, and Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, will present and answer questions on their revised proposal to redraw the Big Horn Basin’s legislative districts. The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m., is being hosted by the Park County Republican Women.
When Big Horn Basin legislators presented their original plan to Meeteetse residents in early November, the 20 citizens at the meeting overwhelmingly expressed opposition. Residents objected because the plan would split the community between two legislative districts and that most of the community would be moving to a district that is typically represented by a Thermopolis resident.
The nine legislators from the Basin re-examined their plan but came to a similar conclusion: there’s just no way to keep the Meeteetse area’s voters in Park County districts while meeting the legislators’ top priority of keeping six House and three Senate seats in the Big Horn Basin.
The boundaries of the legislative districts must be redrawn every 10 years based on U.S. Census data, and the 2010 data showed the Big Horn Basin overall did not grow as fast as the rest of the state. Park County was the only Basin county to see robust population growth over the past decade and must “share” some of its residents with districts in other counties to make a plan work.
Even with sharing and lassoing Shoshoni and Lysite into a Big Horn Basin district, the region still has barely enough voters to have nine seats.