ENID, Okla. — Northwest Oklahoma will see major changes in state legislative representation a year from now once newly approved redistricting maps go into effect.
Republican Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, who currently represents the southern portion of Enid, said last week’s legislative redistricting saw her House district shrink even more from May’s previously approved map that removed Garfield County from the district.
After COVID-delayed 2020 U.S. Census results were released in August, Crosswhite Hader said her House District 41 still was 15,000 over in population — nearly 40% over population limits.
By next November’s elections, the redrawn district will have even less of Kingfisher, Canadian and Logan counties, she said Tuesday.
HD 41 then will cover 193 square miles in the three counties — a massive decrease from 775 square miles that ran all the way up to Garfield County’s northern border.
“It’s just a big slide puzzle, it really is,” said Crosswhite Hader, who was elected in 2018.
Canadian County is the fastest-growing area of the Oklahoma City metro area in the last 10 years, with new housing developments popping up all the time, she said.
“I’m a little sad, but I’m not that surprised, just because of where I live, it’s very clear,” the Piedmont resident said. “In another 10 years, this one will shrink even more.”
Redrawn after every decennial census, Oklahoma’s legislative districts must stay within 10% of each other in population, under U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
2020’s target population was 39,202 people — HD 41’s current population was 41.54% deviation from that target.
An initial map was passed at the end of the regular legislative session, relying on census projections because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on 2020’s release.
The state House passed the newly redrawn maps last week in special session by a vote of 75-19, with the Senate following with 36-10. Stitt signed the new bills into law Monday, and they go into effect during Oklahoma’s next legislative and county commissioner elections in November 2022.
Because April’s filing deadlines are less than six months away, Stitt also passed an emergency provision to the redistricting that shortened the minimum six months someone must live in a district in order to run for the state Legislature.
The widely reported, decade-long increase in population density throughout the OKC metro area — specifically in Crosswhite Hader’s district in Canadian County — has, in turn, resulted in more state representation for the Enid area.
Local legislators said Enid and Garfield County’s redistricting largely stemmed from House District 41’s cut, and both will go from having three representatives to four.
The previously 30-square-mile House District 40, represented by Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, now will only comprise 18 square miles, or 80% of the city — but also will include over 1,000 more people.
Northern and eastern Enid and the town of North Enid will be part of House District 38, represented by Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando.
Pfeiffer and Rep. Carl Newton’s House District 58 needed the populations, as well, and Caldwell said he was able to accommodate those changes with HD 41’s reduction. Newton is a Republican from Cherokee.
Those districts changed marginally from May to November, but Caldwell said his didn’t change at all covering the “heart of Enid.”
The redistricting also consolidated the district-split Chisholm Public Schools sites into HD 38, he said.
“Enid and Garfield County definitely came out with a win,” Caldwell said. “We’re the ninth-largest city in Oklahoma — we should have a strong voice at the Capitol.”
His House GOP colleague, Rep. Mike Dobrinski, said that voice is markedly different from the growing urban areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
“The further you get from the metro areas, the more folks would just prefer to be left alone and let them do their jobs, take care of their families,” the Okarche Republican lawmaker said.
Dobrinski’s House District 59 will take the south and southwestern part of Enid and Garfield County that used to be Crosswhite Hader’s area, including Vance Air Force Base. Newton’s HD 58 will have the west side of Garfield and the westernmost part of Enid that includes Pheasant Run Golf Club.
The former gave up Canadian County to be included in Garfield, which Dobrinksi said was much more contiguous with the demographics of his represented Kingfisher, Dewey, Woodward and Blaine counties.
Dobrinski said petroleum and agriculture have been the biggest industries of job growth in all those counties.
As far as the Senate, Senate District 19, currently held by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, would continue to include all of Alfalfa, Garfield and Grant counties, as well as a portion of Kay County.
Senate District 27, currently held by Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, would include all of Major, Woods, Woodward, Dewey, Harper, Ellis, Roger Mills, Beaver, Texas and Cimarron counties.