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Oldham County’s representation has increased to four in the Kentucky House of Representatives, but it will come at the expense of splitting up the southwest portion of the county.
Three Louisville-based House districts shoot up into Oldham County and will split Pewee Valley and Crestwood into separate districts.
The new maps were passed during a five-day special session last week and immediately signed by Governor Steve Beshear. An emergency clause in the legislation, plus a federal court ruling ending the use of districts lines set in 2002 led many lawmakers to believe the new districts are effectively immediately.
Previously Republican State Rep. David Osborne of Prospect represents the southwest portion of the county, but his district will loop around Crestwood and Pewee Valley to cover the rest of the county instead of those areas now.
“I’m very happy that I’ve pulled back into Oldham County exclusively,” Osborne, who currently represents a small portion of eastern Louisville, said. “Oldham County is home and it makes sense to have one rep to represent most of the county.”
Osborne criticized the decision to split the southwest part of the county into three separate districts, saying he suggested Pewee Valley and Crestwood be kept together and given their own new district.
But Osborne says Democratic House leadership wanted to dilute the Republican voice in the county by de-centralizing most of those voters into multiple districts.
The new districts in Oldham will be the 48th, currently held by Republican state Rep. Bob DeWeese, the 33rd, held by Republican state Rep. Ron Crimm and the 36th District, which will be an open seat in 2014.
Louisville Metro Councilman Jerry Miller, a Republican, has already declared he will run for the open 36th district that will include south Pewee Valley.
The new redistricting plan signed into law last week completely moves Democratic State Rep. Rick Rand out of Oldham starting with the 2014 elections.
DeWeese, one of the new state representatives for Oldham County, says he plans to immediately get in touch with the new portions of his district.
“I’ll be contacting them as soon as I figure out where they all are,” DeWeese said jokingly to the Era. “They’re pretty good precincts and I’m happy to represent anybody. Iím happy with it.”
Oldham County Magistrate JD Sparks says he has questions about the legality of the new redistricting maps, which are based off 2010 U.S. Census numbers, since they split the county four ways.
Several groups upset with the new maps have threatened to sue to block them and there is currently a federal lawsuit on redistricting pending in Northern Kentucky. That federal lawsuit is what sparked the special session to pass new maps.
But legislative leaders contend these new maps will stand up to any legal challenge and they follow rules handed down by the Kentucky Supreme Court on redistricting.
Sparks agrees the new maps are intended to lessen Republican influence from Oldham County in the state legislature.
“It’s a shame they play politics with us,” he said.
But Sparks says he knows Crimm and believes he will represent his new areas of Oldham County well. Sparks also says the move to four state representatives is also a plus.
“Now that we may have four (reps) why would that be a bad thing,” Sparks said. “As long as Oldham County is fairly represented, itís not a bad thing.”
Osborne agrees the addition of three reps could be a plus for a county, adding he’s already spoken with the incumbents who are picking up parts of Oldham.
“We’ve got four reps that can go to the mat for the county,” he said. “The net effect will be a positive.”
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