Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner responded to a Kansas Supreme Court decision upholding a Kansas Legislature congressional redistricting map that split Wyandotte County.
“In light of the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling, to say we are disappointed is an understatement,” Mayor Garner stated in a news release.
“In my opinion, the challenges it poses for Wyandotte County to have representation that reflects a unified vision for the interest and values of our residents has in effect been compromised.
“We recognize that those living north of 70 with a median income of $35,000 will now compete with those living south of 70 with a median income of $50,000. We also realize that the reapportionment of our county may place our residents in direct competition with other Kansans whose needs greatly differ, that may cause priorities to be subject to enhanced scrutiny.
“We are not just a Unified Government, but a unified community. I pray that this new dynamic does not shatter the spirit of shared values and interests that splitting our county’s desire for equitable representation may bring to a community that is still struggling to receive the attention and economikc investment that can not just improve Wyandotte County’s standing but more importantly p eople’s lives.
“With that being said, Wyandotte County is a resilient community comprised of dedicated people that are determined to enhance and improve the quality of life for all those that call Wyandotte County home. As Mayor, I will continue to fight to be a voice of hope for the improved destiny of our residents, not just today but well into the future.”
Amanda Adkins, a Republican candidate for U.S. Representative, 3rd District, issued this statement:
“The map released today is evidence that our democratic process works,” said Adkins. “I welcome the people of Anderson, Franklin, and southern Miami counties to KS-03 and am excited to get to work for the new district, a thriving community of urban, suburban, and rural areas. ”
“KS-03 deserves a Congresswoman who has a plan for our community. There are so many crucial issues that Washington should be working to address right now, from rising prices at the grocery store and the gas pump to the crisis at our southern border,” Adkins stated. “I’m running for Congress to work towards solutions to these issues and to help get our country back on track.”
“My team and I are ready to hit the ground running in the new district and I look forward to representing the people of Anderson, Franklin, Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Congress.”
The ACLU in Kansas issued this statement:
“We’re obviously very disappointed for our clients,” said Sharon Brett, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. “Equal protection under our state’s constitution is supposed to mean something. But as a result of this decision, minority voters and Democratic voters will have their voices diluted for the next ten years. The ACLU of Kansas will never stop fighting for the rights of all Kansans, and this decision won’t change that fact.”
Lawyers in the three plaintiff cases said they will not appeal.
The state’s candidate filing deadline is June 1, Kansas ballots sent to military service members must be mailed by June 17, and the primary election is in early August.
“The Kansas Supreme Court’s reversal of the lower court’s decision is a slap in the face to voters and runs afoul of the democratic values spelled out in Kansas’ own Constitution,” said Paul Smith, senior vice president of Campaign Legal Center. “The Kansas Legislature crafted gerrymandered maps that purposefully divide Kansans based on their race and political views to serve their political interests instead of the community’s needs. Campaign Legal Center will continue fighting for fair maps, because Kansas voters deserve to choose their politicians instead of the other way around.”
Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper said in a previous ruling that the state Constitution protected against political gerrymandering that divided communities of color.
“This court suggests most Kansans would be appalled to know how the contest has been artificially engineered to give one segment of the political apparatus an unfair and unearned advantage,” Klapper wrote.
ACLU of Kansas Executive Director Micah Kubic said the fight will continue.
“This case is only one skirmish in the wholesale assault on democracy in Kansas and around the country,” Kubic said. “Although today’s ruling is disappointing, we will continue to use every ounce of energy we’ve got to defend democracy and protect our shared values. In defending democracy and our values, we don’t give up, we don’t give out, and we don’t give in. As politicians in Kansas continue to try to denigrate our democracy, the ACLU, our supporters and our partners will be there to stand in their way.”
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued this statement:
“Today’s decisions confirm that the legislative and congressional reapportionments of Kansas enacted by the Legislature this year are constitutionally sound. We have successfully defended every Kansan’s right to equal protection of the law in exercising their right to vote, as well as the public’s right to establish new districts through their elected representatives. It is regrettable that Kansas taxpayers have had to bear the unnecessary cost of successfully defending the duly enacted congressional reapportionment against multiple lawsuits backed by out-of-state activists. I am grateful for the expeditious manner in which the court announced the outcome of the cases, and this year’s candidate filings and election preparations can now proceed.”
Statement from Tom Sawyer, House Democratic leader
House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer released this statement:
“I’m happy to see the Court agreed with the Legislature that the Kansas House maps are fair. They were passed with wide bipartisan support and that is reflected in the Court’s opinion.
Unfortunately, the decision regarding Congressional maps opens a pandora’s box for even worse political gerrymandering in the future. Lawrence does not belong in the Big First and Wyandotte should not have been split. Residents of western Kansas, Lawrence, and Wyandotte all agreed on this throughout the redistricting process and made this clear to the Joint Redistricting Committee. The voters in Lawrence and Wyandotte will be silenced by this decision.
Because the Court ruled the Kansas Constitution was not violated, this decision makes clear it’s time for an amendment that clarifies gerrymandering is unconstitutional and prohibited in the state. I call on my colleagues to bring a constitutional amendment to the ballot on this issue.”