Oklahoma legislators release redistricting plans

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature last week made public their proposed redistricting plans. Redistricting takes place every 10 years, following the national Census.

The proposed plan for the Oklahoma House of Representatives would eliminate District 36, which has been represented by Sean Roberts of Hominy. Roberts is term-limited at the end of his current term of office and will be legally prevented from seeking re-election.

District 36 under the new House plan would be reconstituted in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The new House plan would – among other things – unite Pawhuska in a single district.

Pawhuska would be in House District 37, which is currently represented by Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City. District 37 would have all of Fairfax and all of Pawhuska under the plan.

“As far as I know, my district had to pick up 3,500 people to have the right population,” Luttrell said. The new version of District 37 would have 39,640 residents and would cover an area of 1,491 miles, he said.

“There’s a lot of that out there that doesn’t have but one or two people in a square mile,” Luttrell said, adding he is pleased with the outcome.

“This will make it a lot easier for the citizens to just have one representative to contact,” Luttrell said. “I think there are a lot of advantages to tying together Ponca City, Fairfax and Pawhuska.”

He cited the interest of residents of those communities in building their tourist economies.

“It is going to be good for the communities, I think,” Luttrell said.

House District 10, currently represented by Rep. Judd Strom, stands to gain territory in Osage County under the proposed plan. Strom said District 10 would pick up Wynona, Barnsdall and Avant.

“I’m an Osage County guy,” Strom said, explaining he is comfortable with the prospect of picking up more of the county through redistricting. He noted that he would lose part of the Bartlesville area, the town of Ramona, and a portion of Nowata County, but would keep the city of Nowata.

Strom was careful to point out that the House and Senate had yet to vote on legislation to formally adopt the redistricting plans and send them to the governor for review and approval.

He recalled that he grew up with Mayor Johnny Kelley of Barnsdall and said he would look forward to helping small communities in Osage County, such as Barnsdall, work on economic development issues.

Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, currently represents Pawhuska in the Oklahoma Senate and will continue to represent the county seat and the majority of Osage County.

Coleman, who is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, said that under the new Senate redistricting plan he would lose a portion of Kay County to help bolster population numbers for Sen. Roland Pederson.

Coleman said his district effectively moves slightly to the east, with him giving up a portion of Kay County and gaining a small portion of Tulsa County, stopping to the west of Collinsville. He said that he is pleased the proposed House plan would unite Pawhuska.

In his legislative affairs newspaper column for this week, Coleman took care to emphasize that the Oklahoma Legislature is constitutionally mandated to complete its redistricting process during this session.

“The final Census count has been delayed and states won’t receive the final numbers in time to use them this session, so we used estimates from the Census Bureau,” Coleman said in his column. “Because our population has grown by about 15% in the last decade, Senate districts will go from just over 78,000 citizens to nearly 82,000. House districts will go from just over 37,000 to nearly 39,000 residents.”