(Rick Houghtelling) – The Clark County Commissioners completed their Redistricting plan for 2011 on Tuesday, August 16th. And to nobody’s surprise, they chose the map designated Plan C.
The agenda for the day clearly stated that the Plan D map would be presented without public comment and that they would accept public comment on September 6th.
Commissioner Brager announced that public comment would in fact be taken on Plans C and D without mention of a vote immediately following.
Comments were heard from over twenty different people representing Minority interests. Most of these speakers endorsed the new map D. I was the last speaker of the day.
My question to the Commission was this:
“I understand that with a 90,000 voter advantage there could be a chance that all seven Commissioners would be Democrat. But we also had two Republican Districts when you started redistricting. So it would stand to reason that if you took 80,000 voters out of one of those districts, the Republican/Democrat percentages should be approximately the same.
So how can you explain that in District A there are nearly 9,000 and in District C nearly 7,000 more Republicans than Democrats removed to make both Districts solidly Democrat. Now all seven Commission Districts are Democrat controlled.
What I see is partisan politics in play to ensure that all of you retain your positions. Commissioner Brown, I live in your district,t and you have allowed my choice in who represents me to be taken away. You weren’t watching out for me; you were watching out for yourself.”
The Commission then went into discussion amongst themselves and in less than thirty minutes had voted in Plan C, not because it was best for Clark County, but because they felt it gave them the best chance to lock Clark County into Democratic control for the next ten years.
I have attended and spoken at the last four public hearings. Even though the Commissioners kept saying that this process would be fair and transparent, with each meeting it became more apparent that this was just a dog-and-pony show to make the public feel that they had real input. When, at the end of the August 2nd commission meeting after five different groups either stating that they wanted Plan A or none of the plans, Commissioner Weekly said that “it looks like we have a consensus on C.” It seemed as if the decision had been made before the August 2nd meeting and everything else that happened was going through the motions.
The statements made at the first meeting and the reaction of the consultant and the commissioners leads me to believe that this process would have been even more skewed to the Democrats if Conservative groups had not been involved and kept after them from the very beginning of the process.
There was little or no mainstream media attention until the Las Vegas Review-Journal finally ran an article on Saturday the 13th. The CCRP actually sent a letter to the editor in July about the partisanship in play and it was not printed.
Democratic advantage by district is now as follows:
It’s not all doom and gloom. With strong candidates and great campaigns, we are within the margin of error in four or five districts and could have a chance at defeating the Incumbent County Commissioners. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
This redistricting process was an exercise in partisan politics at its worst. This new map was commissioned, drawn, and approved by seven Democrats with little or no oversight unless this decision is challenged in court.
Neither party, when in the majority, should be allowed the pass that this Commission was given.
(Rick Houghtelling is Chair of the Clark County Republican Party’s Legislative Affairs Committee.)