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Assemblyman Hafen decries state redistricting, files lawsuit

The election of Pahrump’s Nevada State Assembly representative just got a bit more complicated, thanks to the approval of a redistricting proposal by the Legislature last month.

Rather than one assembly-person to represent the interests of this rural town of Nye County, the state has decided to split Pahrump into two assembly districts, including its longstanding district of 36 and district 33. In addition to this change, assembly representation for Nye County as a whole has also been altered and the county, which used to have just two assembly districts, now has three. The county previously consisted of assembly districts 36 and 32 but after action by the Nevada State Legislature, Nye is now represented by districts 36, 33 and 38.

It’s a move that has many locals fuming but two have decided to do more than just gripe about the changes. Nevada Assemblyman Greg Hafen II, of district 36, and former Nye County Commissioner John Koenig, have filed a joint lawsuit against the state in an effort to force a reconsideration of the new legislative district boundaries.

“Pahrump, Nye County and the state of Nevada deserve better political boundaries than what Democrats drew up in the 33rd Special Session,” Hafen stated of the lawsuit. “They have split our county up into three districts and split my community of Pahrump up in a way that ties it to Elko and outlying areas of Las Vegas. Instead of our town and its many unique interests, including complex water matters, being represented locally, it now stands to be represented more by voices from Las Vegas and Elko.”

Hafen is accusing Nevada Democratic lawmakers of intentionally ignoring key aspects of the redistricting process, remarking that the National Conference of State Legislatures has determined six traditional districting principles, or criteria, that have been adopted by many states, to be used when undertaking the redistricting that follows each decennial census. These include compactness, preservation of counties and other political subdivisions, preservation of communities of interest, preservation of core prior districts, contiguity, and avoiding pairing of incumbents.

“How many of these core principles were followed when drawing these maps?” Hafen queried. “I believe that Democrats have violated every single one of these principles.”

Hafen has asserted that the way the redistricting was done gives Democrats a decisive edge when its comes to future elections and some political analysts agree that there is a definite sense of gerrymandering present in the new legislative districts that have been created.

“SB 1 (Senate Bill 1) not only divided Pahrump and Nye County but also gerrymandered Reno, Washoe, Elko, Lincoln, Latino communities and tribal communities of the Reno/Sparks Indian Colony, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, the Timbi-Sha Shoshone Reservation, the Steward Community and the Washoe Ranches Land Trust in the state legislative maps, with one goal in mind, to create super majorities in both houses for Democrats,” Hafen asserted. “Politically engineered lines should not be the basis of vital representation for the next decade. SB 1 diluted the voices of voters in Pahrump, Nye County and the state of Nevada in order to amplify the political power of the majority party.”

Filed just one day after the state passed Senate Bill 1, Hafen and Koenig’s lawsuit names both the state of Nevada and Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske as defendants. It was filed with the First Judicial District Court under case No. 21OC001661B.

According to the redistricting maps provided on the Nevada Legislature’s website, Nye County’s congressional district has not changed at all, with the county still contained entirely within Congressional District 4.

However, the county’s state senate districts have been adjusted. In the past 10 years, Nye County has been split into two state senate districts, including 19 and 14, and while the number of districts within the county has not changed, the northwestern portion of the county now falls into district 17 rather than 14.

Those interested in reviewing the redistricting maps as approved by the Legislature on Nov. 16 can visit bit.ly/3Ifpunl.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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