Some takeaway thoughts after watching (the stream) of the Medford-based hearing today of the Oregon Legislature’s reapportionment committees …
Everyone wants their city or town kept unified in legislative (and congressional) districts. Well, join the club. The people here do have some concerns, though. Grants Pass, for example, is basically included in U.S. House district 2 (which mostly runs east of the Cascades), but almost all of the rest of its county (Josephine) is in district 4. The former has been voting for Republican representatives for many years, the latter Democratic. Some whipsaw going on in Josephine; an issue to fix, if possible.
The prevailing view seems to be that a real community of interest runs along state Highway 140, from Medford through the White City/Eagle Point area north of it, east to Klamath Falls, and continuing east to Lakeview. As opposed to running north-south; the people in Klamath Falls said they feel a lot closer to the Medford area than to Bend (which is a straight shot north on U.S. 97) though the distances are comparable. Why? 140 was described as an easier road to run in the winter; commerce runs much more east-west than north-south; media links Klamath (and Lakeview) with Medford but not with Bend; school and service connections run that way; even a commuter bus line connects on the east-west route. The testimony on this point was consistent.
So too, though, was the view that the Chiloquin area, about 40 miles north of Klamath Falls but still in Klamath County, ought to be united with K-Falls in a House district (they’re presently in the same Senate but different House districts).
There was little testimony to the effect of unity between Medford and Grants Pass, though they’re geographically nearby and along a short run on I-5.
There were some odd cases – geographical oddities, that is. The Applegate Valley, for instance. The valley hammocks from Grants Pass to Medford, south of I-5, and separated from the freeway by a mountain range – the valley is its own distinct community. But it is split between Jackson and Josephine counties, and between legislative and congressional districts as well. What the reapportioners can do to help them out is anyone’s guess.Share on Facebook