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Gephardt loses the city, as the Senate Redistricting Committee issues another map

May 07, 2001
By: Maggie Rotermund
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 586

JEFFERSON CITY- Missouri's Senate Redistricting Committee voted to move St. Louis Rep. Dick Gephardt's district out of the city -- moving the U.S. House Democratic leader's district into St. Louis county and south.

Under the proposed map, his proposed 3rd district runs from Clayton through Franklin and St. Genevieve Counties.

Neil Kessler, Director of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said Gephardt's proposed district is a "bedroom area" for St. Louis and St. Charles. It is a suburban district, with strong industrial growth.

Rep. Lacy Clay would be St. Louis's only representative under the new plan, which holds the city of St. Louis together as one district.

"It reflects a community of interest, while keeping the majority/minority district. St. Louis is losing population, and this map reflects that," said Sen. Mike Gibbons, R-St. Louis County.

The Hill and Soulard neighborhoods are added to Clay's proposed district, which add a growing population base to diminishing totals within the city. Hazelwood and Frontenac were removed from the 1st district.

"It is my opinion that there is a split in St. Louis, depending on whether you are north or south of Highway 40. People's daily lives--working, shopping, entertainment--is on one side or the other," said Gibbons.

The map changes came after a weekend of criticism and complaints for lawmakers. Their goal of achieving "zero deviation", or 621,690 people per district, while keeping communities of interest together, met with disapproval from many citizens.

"Boone, Calloway and Cole Counties are fairly similar in interests," said Kessler. "We thought they should stay together." Like last week's predecessor, Cole County moves from the 4th to the 9th district.

Sen. Steve Stoll, D-Festus, said that while the map looks like very little has changed, those little changes make all the difference in the world. "It does not reflect the bipartisan makeup of Missouri."

The 6th district, which encompasses the Northwestern corner of the state, also faced changes with the new map.

"We worked really hard to keep all three of the area airports in one district," said Kessler. "The Kansas City, Platte County and downtown airports are together under this plan. They share resources, so we thought they should share a congress person."

Gibbons said the new plan satisfied the principles the committee set out at the beginning of the session.

"No matter how the lines are drawn, someone is going to be terribly upset," said Gibbons. "But we have very little time left and it is time to go forward."