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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, July 30, 2001

In reapportionment, no way to please all . . .

The painful reality of reapportionment began to emerge last week as a preliminary political map for the state's legislative districts began to take shape.

Shifting population means shifting district lines, with the result that some lawmakers found themselves without a home district while others found themselves sharing a district with a fellow incumbent.

Since this is a preliminary plan, there will be plenty of jockeying and adjustment as the lawmakers do their best to hang on to familiar turf.

What was impressive in the early reaction to the plan, as reported by Capitol Bureau reporters Kevin Dayton and Scott Ishikawa, was the realistic, pragmatic reaction of those most affected.

They recognized that the changing lines will result in unhappy results for someone, and seemed prepared to deal with it.

Of course, this is early in the going. The good tempers and reasoned debate often give way to furious legal fights later on. We can only hope that won't happen in this case this time.

The best way to guarantee a smooth reapportionment process is for the commission to recognize that its ultimate duty is not to the incumbents, but to the voters who deserve:

A. A fair one-person, one-vote division of the districts; and

B. Close attention to the preservation of existing neighborhoods; attention to demographic similarities and geographic logic.

If the final district lines make sense to the voters from the standpoint of these criteria, the politicians will have little to complain about.