BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Legislature is in a special session this week discussing redistricting.
The current proposed redistricting plan would bring a change to Washington County's Congressional district.
States redistrict every 10 years based on results from the census. This time, the proposed plan would move Bartlesville and Washington County out of Congressional District one and into Congressional District two.
The move would mean the area would have a new Congressional representative. It’s currently Rep. Kevin Hern, but would change to Rep. Markwayne Mullin.
State Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) chair of the House Redistricting Committee said the change is necessary.
Census data from 2020 shows the state grew 5.5 percent, or by about 200,000 people, most of them moving to the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. He said the goal of redistricting is to equalize the population within each district.
“It used to take Tulsa County and Washington County to meet that number," Rep. Martinez said. "Well, since Tulsa grew so much, that’s not necessary. All those people are more condensed packed into an area and they will be meeting that number and that threshold just in Tulsa County.”
However, State Rep. Wendi Stearman (R-Collinsville) represents Bartlesville and Washington County said this change based on new census data doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual population in that area.
“With low census participation that does make it challenging," Rep. Stearman said. "And so as far as being a fair representation of people living there, no.”
Stearman held a redistricting town hall in Bartlesville for her constituents. She said the main concern she heard was losing Rep. Hern.
“He has been very good, very active in Washington County and I assume like with the rest of his district," Rep. Stearman said. "But he really did develop good relationships in our county.”
However, Rep. Martinez said the change shouldn’t have too big of an impact and no matter who represents the area they’ll be in good hands.
“I don’t think with all intents and purposes much changes other than who they’re calling and which office is helping them," Rep. Martinez said. "I would encourage people to get to know their new Congressperson. And I assure you that Congressperson would be very interested in meeting them.”
A portion of Wagoner County would also move from CD1 to CD2.
The state legislature will be debating redistricting all week long. Rep. Martinez said they hope to have a final vote and send it to the governor by the end of the week.
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