Comments by Beth Schafers

Commission District: 2

As a citizen of Wichita living on the edge of Sedgwick County District 2, I urge the BoCC and the ad hoc redistricting committee to consider the implications of how the 2021 Sedgwick County redistricting process has unfolded. It is a true shame that this has not been done in a more thoughtful, transparent manner, but instead has been done along party lines and in rushed fashion. Redistricting is a process that has domino effects that last decades. This process should always include a non-partisan review/recommendation and should be informed by public feedback. Having one town hall meeting on the edge of the city in a location that was difficult to find is completely insufficient and inexcusable, as is asking for public review, comment, and final decisions over a time period that includes a major holiday before an abbreviated deadline. Shirking the opportunity to have a non-partisan review guided by a trusted organization in favor of a thrown together, mostly partisan panel is an embarrassment for all residents and voters in Sedgwick County. In the current situation, I ask the ad hoc committee and the BoCC to consider the following: - Communities of interest and neighborhoods should be considered and their feedback should be given incredible weight. Residents should be given an opportunity to have their voices heard about how re-drawn lines would affect them. - The implications and number of voters affected by changing election timelines should be weighed heavily. Striving to negatively affect the least number of voters in our community should be a top priority with a proposed redistricting plan. - Given the condensed timeline and lack of opportunity for more feasible options, and taking the previous notes into consideration on the remaining maps in the review process, I would suggest that the committee recommend proposed map #6 to the BoCC. - I would still urge the BoCC to delay the final decision for this process in order to enable time for a more full and thoughtful consideration of this important part of your jobs. Looking forward, I ask the County Commissioners to consider the following: - After a plan is adopted, it is important that any resulting changes be broadly and clearly communicated. Voters should be well informed and communicated to regarding any decision that will affect their assigned district or their voting timelines. I would ask the BoCC and their staff team to put a firm plan in place in order to make sure this happens in a timely manner. - Politicians should not draw their own boundaries and political parties should not be part of map data. This is extremely problematic. I urge the BoCC to establish a policy for the redistricting process going forward. This policy should include a well thought out timeline, a required non-partisan review, the exclusion of party affiliation on map data, and a minimum required public town hall opportunity in each district at the beginning of this process to identify concerns and priorities of the public that the Board represents. Having an official policy in place sets Sedgwick County up for a more transparent, successful process in the future. Finally, I ask all of the Sedgwick County Commissioners to recall and consider the oath of office that you took for this role and will remind you all that you are in this position to advocate in the best interests of the constituents in your district, not your own. Thank you to all of the members of the ad hoc committee and the Board of County Commissioners for your time, energy, and service.

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