Commonwealth Journal

October 23, 2013

Minor changes expected to magisterial districts

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Only minor changes are expected in magisterial district lines when a committee appointed by Pulaski Fiscal Court to realign the districts makes recommendations to magistrates, possibly at the next meeting of fiscal court November 5.

  Committee member Rick Barker pointed out that Pulaski County’s five magisterial districts were realigned following the 2010 federal census. However, tweaking of the boundary lines is necessary because of the Kentucky General Assembly’s recent realignment of House and Senate districts. State law prohibits precinct boundaries from crossing legislative lines.

  Delayed realignment of legislative districts resulted from an initial realignment being declared unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court. The apparently legal realignment was done during a special session of the General Assembly in August.

  “Voters will hardly notice the (upcoming) magisterial district changes,” said Barker. Several “pocket” precincts, established to avoid precincts with both city and county voters, will be eliminated, he indicated.

  For example, in Somerset, before the “pocket” precincts were formed, a few city voters, because of annexation, had to vote in county precincts such as Rush Branch, Vaught and Caney Fork. Voters who live in Somerset were eligible to vote in these county precincts during city elections and it was up to precinct officers to determined who among the voters resided in the city.

 There also will be some minor changes in precincts in and near Burnside. Pulaski County Clerk Ralph Troxtell said Burnside City North with less than 50 registered voters is sure to be eliminated.

  “We’re looking at less precincts,” said Troxtell. He said the General Assembly’s realignment of House and Senate districts makes (precinct realignment) “workable at less cost.”

  Barker, veteran member of the Pulaski County Board of Elections, indicated that possible division of precincts that have become too large may end up with the county have about the same number of precincts, currently 59.

  Tweaking of magisterial district boundaries is also necessary because of the “one person, one vote,” principle, meaning all citizens, regardless of where they reside in a state, are entitled to equal legislative representation. Barker said each of the five magisterial districts in Pulaski County should have just under 13,000 residents.

  In addition to Barker, Rodney Dick, longtime Pulaski County Road Department employee, and Lisa Gilbert, director of Pulaski County 9-1-1 Communications Center, are members of the realignment committee. Barker, owner of Godby Realty and Auction Company, is retired as 9-1-1director during which time he was instrumental in mapping and addressing the county.