STILWELL, Kan. — State lawmakers could soon have to make decisions on how to redraw the lines of Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Tuesday, the House and Senate Committees on Redistricting wrapped up the final listening tour before the start of the 2022 legislative session. 

Residents in the 3rd District met in Stilwell and Bonner Springs to virtually weigh in on potential changes to district boundaries.

Based on the 2020 census, the state of Kansas has grown in population by approximately 84,762 people in the last decade. According to Jordan Milholland with the Legislative Research Department (KLRD), the ideal congressional district would include roughly 734,470 people.

The numbers provided in the census indicate the 3rd District currently includes roughly 57,000 people over the ideal population limit (7.8% over the limit). 

Currently the 3rd District includes Johnson County, Wyandotte County and a portion of northern Miami County. The state did not gain or lose a congressional seat based on this population change, but district lines will likely need to be redrawn during the next legislative session. 

“Our district with Wyandotte County is very diverse and it’s growing more diverse by the minute. That integrity of that diversity needs to be respected and maintained,” Overland Park resident Bruce Carter said.

“We know the district is going to be altered, as it was stated earlier, because we are over our population limits. Some of it is going to have to go away, but it needs to be geographically maintained as much as possible and also respecting the diversity.”

Amy Carter lives in Senate District 37, which includes Johnson County and a portion of rural Miami County. Carter said she would like to see the northern portion of the senate district merged with a surrounding district to better reflect the wants and needs of people in the more populated portion of the district. 

“The Senate District 37 representative who currently represents Miami County does not attempt to represent the interest of my neighborhood or surrounding Johnson County neighborhoods,” Carter said.“The most populous parts of Johnson County should not be included in the same district as rural counties since our interests can and do vary greatly.” 

Carrie O’Brian attended the previous town hall meeting in August. Tuesday she voiced concerns about the possibility of partisan gerrymandering.

“Telling you I live near I-35 or this business or that business doesn’t tell you the same story as saying I’m a millennial who had to put off home buying because of the pandemic. Or, I’m concerned about where I do eventually buy a home, because people are actively trying to make my vote count for less, because I don’t vote Republican,” O’Brian said.

Alec Overman lives in Lenexa and said he wants to see the major cities in Johnson County and Wyandotte County stay together.

“If you separate Wyandotte and Johnson County, Johnson County could be in a district that includes communities as far south to the Oklahoma border and as far west as Emporia,” Overman said. 

Overman said the more heavily populated portion of the two counties could remain intact if lawmakers redraw smaller cities like Gardner, Edgerton, Spring Hill, Louisburg and De Soto into the 2nd District. 

Lawmakers will host additional hearings as the legislature begins to review proposed district maps. Hearing dates have not yet been scheduled. 

Anyone who was unable to attend one of the town halls can submit comments to the committee via email at redistricting@klrd.ks.gov or by mail at KLRD 300 S.W. 10th Street, Room 68 West, Topeka, KS 66612. Comments and concerns can also be submitted on the KLRD website.