Mid-Missourians request unified central congressional district

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- As state lawmakers continue to make plans for what the state's congressional map will look like for the next decade, residents of central Missouri say they'd like to see a more unified mid-Missouri congressional district.

During a public hearing at the Capitol on Tuesday, a longtime Columbia resident said he'd like to see district more centered on his city, arguing that in the last several decades, it has become the identifying center or mid-Missouri.

"I've watched Columbia grow over the, what, last 26 or 27 years now, and I've increasingly recognized Columbia as being a center of influence in the state of Missouri, as well as the city that much of central Missouri looks to," Columbia resident Robert Weagley told the committee.

Others shared his sentiment that districts should be centered on common, self-identified regions with shared political interests.

"I think the primary thing that the committee should keep in mind is to try and take communities like that, that have a sense of shared interest, shared value and shared perspective, and have those communities stay together inside a congressional district," said Eric Morris, a professor at Missouri State University.

Currently, Columbia is in the southwest corner of the 9th District, which stretches as far north as the Iowa border and east to the St. Louis suburbs. Other parts of mid-Missouri are contained in the 6th and 4th districts.

The 9th District grew by 62,411 people during the last decade, according to recently released census numbers. The 4th District, which contains the Capitol, grew by 57,685 people and the 6th District grew by 72,284.

Lawmakers on the House and Senate redistricting committees have until May 14, the end of the legislative session, to draw a new congressional map that eliminates one of the current districts.

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