Graves County voters upset about new districts

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Justin Jones

WINGO, Ky. - Graves County Clerk Barry Kennemore, along with many others, hopes state leaders scrap the maps they made after the most recent census.      

The clerk said previously his county was made up of one district.  That meant everyone in Graves County got to vote in the same district.

On the new map, the county is divided into four state districts and have to share those districts with neighboring counties that have more voters and more voting power.

That's why Kennemore says it's far from fair.

In a small community like Wingo, neighbors know each other and most people get along, but something's dividing these people, and they're not happy.

Mary Hicks has lived here for years and never thought she'd see this.

"You have elections, what do you you got a mixed up mess now," Hicks said.

In Wingo, it's Highway 45 that divides the community. Hicks is in District Four, while her neighbor across the street is in District Two. The county clerk said it's this way across the county.

"They basically cut up Graves County like a cherry pie at a church social," Kennemore said.

He's worried about his county.  He wonders if voter's voices will be heard if they're in a district with a larger county. He's also not sure if a Graves County politicians would stand a chance in the new districts.

"I don't think there's anybody from our area who can better represent Graves County than someone from Graves County, that's what I want," Kennemore said.

Hicks couldn't agree more.

"I don't like this, I don't agree with it, leave it be, it works fine," Hicks said.

The new maps were drawn in 2012 and signed by Governor Steve Beshear but later deemed unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court who said it violated the state's standards for redistricting, which led to a lawsuit.

Governor Beshear has called a special legislative session starting August 19 to give lawmakers another chance to deal with the issue.

Graves County House District Representative Republican Richard Heath said this changes everything for him. He's very unhappy with this and says with redistricting he'd have to run against fellow Republican Steven Rudy. He says he wouldn't do that and is prepared to rent a house in Mayfield, which would be a different district, that way he can serve the same constituents. Kennemore tells us the Graves County Fiscal Court and Mayfield City Council have passed resolutions against the new districts.

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