The Editor, Hoptown Chronicle,
What do Millbrooke Elementary School and Ledbetter, Kentucky, have in common? The first is an elementary school in the heart of Hopkinsville, the 11th largest city in Kentucky with a population of more than 30,000. The second is a tiny farming community — population 1,860 — nearly 60 miles away and located on the banks of the Ohio River. The common denominator: Both are located in Kentucky’s 4th House District.
What do Millbrooke Elementary and nearby Hopkinsville Golf and Country Club have in common? Both are active, long-established entities of Hopkinsville whose populations are interspersed within the community. Teachers and students, golfers and other members belong to the same community organizations and churches — and even families. However, the country club, a four-minute drive from the school, sits in Kentucky’s 9th House District. Thus, the country club has a different state representative from Millbrooke school.
One final “surprise” — Hopkinsville Middle School is in neither of these legislative districts. The middle school sits in Kentucky’s 8th House District, along with the city of Cadiz. So a family who lives in Hopkinsville and belongs to the country club could easily have children going to both Millbrooke and Hopkinsville Middle School with representation by three different state legislators.
Why are MIllbrooke Elementary, Hopkinsville Golf and Country Club, and Hopkinsville Middle School in three different legislative districts?
One word: gerrymandering.
According to the “Oxford English Dictionary,” to gerrymander is to “manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.” Since state legislatures have the sole authority to set their own legislative boundaries based on census data, they have, for decades, engaged in manipulation of those boundaries to protect their own numbers and interests. Thus, Hopkinsville has been divided among three districts rather than being its own district. And with the 2020 census data to be released later this year, the current Kentucky legislature is gearing up for another 10-year lock on whatever boundaries it decides to put in place.
I want to encourage the citizens of Hopkinsville to join the Facebook Group Unite Hopkinsville to learn more about the effects of our gerrymandered districts and what is being done to attempt to work with legislators to perhaps “unite” our city as one legislative entity in next year’s redistricting efforts. Our local League of Women Voters is planning a meeting with area legislators, as well as a Day of Action event at 4 p.m. on April 29 at the Christian County Justice Center, to encourage our citizens to join us in requesting a seat at the table in next year’s redistricting.
I leave you with this fact: While some may insist that having three separate legislators is better than having one, keep in mind that fractions of leadership do not add up to whole leadership. Do you really want your schools, your churches, all the entities of your local government forever divided from within? Please join us at Unite Hopkinsville and make your voice heard for one city, one district.
Hopkinsville-Christian County League of Women Voters