After seemingly endless meetings where tiny population clusters were moved block by tedious block, spirited public input and a dozen drafts later, a final map of County Council districts has been approved that will stand for the next 10 years.
The county Redistricting Commission finished its work and adjourned Tuesday, pronouncing the numbers within the required ranges and the boundaries as near to the public’s wishes as the commission could make them.
“We did work really, really hard on this,” said Chairman Bronsten-Glenn Kossow. “We’re not going to make everyone happy; that’s something to note.”
The public can access the map in a format that allows them to zoom in to see the small details of their neighborhoods by going to https://arcg.is/1CfTe10 and selecting “Working Doc 1.6” from the drop-down menu on the right side of the screen.
The goal of redistricting — which happens every 10 years after the census — is to create districts of approximately the same size, so everyone gets equal representation in government. Ideal districts follow permanent and easily recognized features like rivers and roads, are compact and contiguous and don’t split neighborhoods of similar interest.
The public didn’t want the Kailua Village business district to be split between County Council districts, nor Waimea, nor Hawaiian Paradise Park, nor the Keaukaha and Panaewa Hawaiian Home Lands property.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to do all those things at once, so commissioners had to weigh the relative importance of each in crafting boundaries, all while staying within the numbers required by law.
Still, not everyone got what they wanted.
“This was rough and we had difficult decisions to make,” said Commissioner Stephanie Bath. “And we came together and we gave and we took and we compromised.”
The commission was able to bring Hawaiian Home Lands areas in both Keaukaha and Panaewa back into Hilo District 3. But the numbers made it impossible to have all of Hawaiian Paradise Park together.
Commissioner James Hustace called keeping all of Waimea together in one district, “a bridge too far.”
“We’ve got to keep this idea that Waimea is going to be split at some position. The numbers don’t allow us (to bring the entire region together),” Hustace said. “We can try to lessen the impact as much as possible.”
The commission changed the boundary lines between Kona District 7 and North Kona District 8 in a way the commissioners hope will satisfy the residents.
“My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Commissioner Stephen Lopez.
Based on the new census data, the ideal council district will include 22,232 people. The new District 9 comes closest to that with 22,414 people, just slightly over the idea. Furthest away in the new map is District 1, with 20,954 people, or 5.75% less than the ideal.
Districts shouldn’t deviate more than 10% above or below that ideal, nor should the difference between the most populated and least populated. In the old map, the difference between most and least populated stood at 19.38%.
The new districts will be used by candidates who can start qualifying for election starting March 1.
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at email@example.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald