A trio of federal judges has rearranged congressional, state representative and state senate districts. Those changes will have a major impact on Pratt County.

A trio of federal judges has rearranged congressional, state representative and state senate districts. Those changes will have a major impact on Pratt County.

After decades of being part of the Big First District, with a stroke of a pen the judges have moved Pratt and the adjoining counties out of the First District and into the Fourth Congressional District.

Rep. Mike Pompeo serves the Fourth District and will now be Pratt County’s representative in Washington D.C. Pompeo, like other federal and state legislators, he lost some areas and gained others.  This major shift in districts will sever ties that have been around for decades and longer.

“I am saddened by the loss of the good people of Montgomery County from Kansas’ Fourth District, but I welcome all residents of the newly added counties of Barber, Pratt, Stafford, Edwards, Kiowa, Comanche, Pawnee, and the northern half of Greenwood.  I am glad that the lingering issue of redistricting boundaries is finally settled.  I look forward to continuing my work in Congress and on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, on behalf of families in South Central Kansas. I look forward to getting to know the newest constituents of Kansas’ Fourth Congressional District in the days and weeks ahead,” Pompeo said.

Not only is state Rep. Mitch Holmes losing territory, his district number is changing from 114 to 113 and that is creating a lot of confusion for he and many other representatives across the state.

“I haven’t gotten in touch with my feelings,” Holmes said. “I’m speechless. I think the whole state is in shock. I was anticipating some tweaks but this was major surgery.”

Holmes talked with Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal of Hutchinson and O’Neal had adrenalin in his voice when he said ‘You will not believe what the court has done.’

Holmes, like many other legislators, anticipated small changes in the legislative maps that were sent to the federal judges but they scrapped the maps and went their own way.

“I don’t think anyone anticipated that,” Holmes said.

The new district maps were completed late Thursday and it put some 48 representatives in districts with more than one representative.

While the House version of the redistricting map was designed to make as few changes as possible to the existing districts, the new map made drastic changes.

“We weren’t going to use it as a political tool but now everyone is scratching their head and scrambling,” Holmes said.

Pratt and Stafford Counties will now be in the 113th District as will a small portion of eastern Pawnee County, part of Barton County but not Great Bend and a portion of Rice County.

With the shift in district number also came a shift in the area covered. Holmes will no longer serve Larned and Kinsley. Losing those towns is not just a change in district territory, it is an emotional loss as well.

Over the years Holmes has developed an affection for the towns in his district and to lose them all at once is like a death in the family.

“There’s a little bit of a morning period,” Holmes said. “You get close to the people in the district and all of sudden it’s taken from you.”

Holmes had already filed for re-election in the 114th District but now he will have to withdraw from that race to run in the 113th District and that led to some confusion.

Holmes said he wasn’t sure what all he needed to do to get changed over to the 113th District. He was trying to get in touch with the Secretary of State to determine if the change over would be automatic or if he would need to file some paper work.

“I need to know what is required of me to get the numbers right,” Holmes said. 

The change in districting will mean less driving for Holmes but Sen. Ruth Teichman’s 33rd District has expanded westward to Scott City requiring her to add miles to her district.

“I was surprised. I lost the southern part of my district,” Teichman said.

She also lost territory that she has served since she was elected to the Kansas Senate.

“I’m disappointed. I’m losing part of the district I’ve served for 12 years,” Teichman said. “I didn’t realize there would be changes.”

She developed many friendships and miss those but is looking forward to representing a new portion of the state that shares her philosophy of education, rural development and agriculture.

“I look at this as an opportunity to meet more people,” Teichman explained.