Monday, February 21, 2011

HD31 Rural Population Largest in the State

After last week’s article about the census, I received responses asking that I follow up and provide an update about the new census report.

The report stated that House District 31 now has 44,222 residents. This represents an increase of about 10,000 over the last ten years, and it means that House District 31 will be required to give up about 7,000 residents in the upcoming redistricting process in order to meet the necessary requirement of approximately 37,000 per legislative district.

As you are probably aware, an important principle of our representative system of governance is that one person should not have less voting power than a person in another district. The redistricting process is designed to correct the inequities that have occurred over time due to the explosive area growth. Those who live in House District 31 actually have less voting power than those who live in less populated districts.

House District 31 is current the tenth largest district in the state and the eighth fastest growing district.

However, House District 31 is the largest district in terms of unincorporated or rural population. With over 27,000 rural residents, just House District 31’s unincorporated population comes within 5,000 people of surpassing the size of Oklahoma's least populated house districts.

You can only imagine how much demand this places on county government services. In fact, in Logan County District 1 alone, there are approximately 14,000 unincorporated residents. There are nearly 50% more residents in the unincorporated area of this county commission district than there are in the entire city of Guthrie. Logan County District 2 also serves a high rural population with about 10,000 rural residents which is about the same size as Guthrie.

One of the biggest implications of this report is its impact on county-level redistricting. This presents county leaders with the challenge of meeting the requirement to re-district each county commission district so that the population is divided evenly -- while not creating a large disparity in the number of road miles each commissioner must maintain. There is a large disparity in population numbers between Logan County Districts 1 and 3. Logan County District 1 contains over 40% of the population and Logan County District 3 has 27%.

Logan County is one of the top 7 fastest growing counties in the State with over 41,848 residents.

The numbers also show an explosive growth trend in the Oklahoma County part of House District 31. There are now over 3,000 residents of the district who live within the city limits of Edmond, and nearly 1,000 residents live in unincorporated Oklahoma County.

The tremendous number of rural residents demonstrates what local officials have known for several years: the growth in House District 31 is mostly in unincorporated areas and the demands of this growth have been placed on county government.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons which can be taken away from this fact is that people do not need city government in order to receive basic services. In Logan and Oklahoma Counties, over 27,000 people are demonstrating that life is possible without the tax and regulation burdens provided by city governments. There are very few if any other areas in the state with this significant level of rural residents.

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