Candidate’s insinuations uncalled forBy BRYAN DAVIS EDITOR,
If you saw smoke coming from the direction of the Sunflower County Courthouse on Monday morning, it was probably from the bridges being burned by Senate District 13 candidate Mark Buckner.
Buckner is running in a district that is set to be redrawn, one way or another, in the near future, as part of a larger redrawing of Senate District 22.
United States District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled back in February that the lines for District 22 were unconstitutional and violated the Voting Rights Act. His ruling called for the Legislature to redraw the district, and if that was not done to his liking, he said he would redraw it himself.
The Legislature complied just before the 2019 session ended.
The solution the Legislature offers will take a large portion of voters from Sunflower County’s District 13 and put them in District 22.
Reeves has yet to give approval or disapproval of the plan.
The good news is that Sunflower County would have two state senators under the new plan, with the addition of representation from District 22.
The bad news is that some Sunflower County District 13 candidates, especially those who previously relied on the large voting block in the southern half of the county that could go to District 22, have either lost their voting base or have been drawn out of the district entirely.
Based on Buckner’s Indianola address, his candidacy for District 13 would essentially end if the proposed plan goes into effect.
Buckner has a right to be frustrated about the situation, as does Indianola resident and fellow 13 candidate Charles Modley.
The only problem is that those frustrations have been vented in the wrong direction.
Buckner was not on the agenda to speak at the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday morning, but he was still given the floor, as District 2 Supervisor Riley Rice proposed the board send a letter of united support to Reeves for keeping the district lines for 13 as is.
During the dialogue that followed, it was insinuated that certain members of the board were in cahoots with Sen. Willie Simmons (District 13) and his daughter Sarita Simmons, who is running for her father’s seat as he campaigns for Transportation Commissioner Central.
It is likely that under the proposed plan, whoever runs for District 13 outside of Sunflower County will likely have an edge since Sunflower County’s most populous voting base would be moved to another district.
And while it’s true that it will make running for Districts 13 or 22 out of Sunflower County more challenging, it does not mean the lawsuit that challenged District 22’s gerrymandering, nor the Legislature’s plan that followed are part of a wider conspiracy.
It’s even more outlandish to suggest that members of the county board, which has no say in the matter at all, would have been invited to participate in the conspiracy.
It’s fine for the candidates impacted by this mess to voice their frustrations, and perhaps the board of supervisors is the only shoulder they have to cry on, but there’s no sense in walking into a public meeting, asking the board to write a letter in support of your cause and then accusing certain members of being in the camp of a competing campaign.
While most legislative candidates are promising to fix bridges, there are some out there who are bent on burning them.