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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Isle reapportionment plan can be apolitical

Because the districts are relatively large, reapportionment for the Honolulu City Council's nine districts will likely offer fewer opportunities for mischief or controversy.

The numbers are big enough to offset much of the impact of population shifts since the last reapportionment a decade ago. In broad terms, then, the districts could remain largely as they are.

This reapportionment commission will also have the advantage of being able to do its work without regard to the needs or pressures of incumbents in all districts save two. That's because a term-limit law will put seven council members on the sidelines.

Without some of the distractions facing the state Reapportionment Commission, the O'ahu panel could — and should — spend extra time on the non-political aspects of reapportionment, to the degree there is such a critter.

That means looking at district lines with an eye toward keeping communities intact within one councilmanic district (Waipahu comes to mind) as well as respecting geographic, demographic and other elements that bind or divide different neighborhoods.

No reapportionment can ever satisfy everyone. But the task of the commission, to be approved by the council this week, is to get as close as it can to that goal with as little attention as possible to the political pressures that will surely be brought to bear.