In a proposed redistricting map draft that has received support from a majority of the Nebraska senators, Custer and Dawson Counties will move from District 36 to District 43 and 44 respectively. Prior to the redistricting in 2011, Custer had been a part of District 43 before being grouped with the northern portion of Buffalo County and all of Dawson County.
Sen. Matt Williams told KCNI/KBBN he was disappointed in the rural senators for refusing to try and find a solution that was best for everyone. He said none of the rural senators would allow discussions about their districts. After careful thought, he decided District 36 could be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
To make it work, Sen. Williams said there would have to be some agreements including keeping both Custer and Dawson County in one piece. He said there had been maps proposing both counties be split in half, which he was not a supporter of.
“Custer County would have to be kept whole as a county and move back to the 43rd Legislative District which is where it had been up to 10 years ago and as part of moving back there, they would clearly be the anchor county of that District,” said Sen. Williams
After the release of the census numbers, it showed the rural parts of the state would lose a seat in the legislature as the population has grown faster in the Lincoln and Omaha areas compared to rural Nebraska.
Sen. Williams continued, “I think many of would have preferred District 36 stayed intact in its current situation, but that was just simply not in the cards. I was willing to do this using it as a lever to get the republicans and the democrats to agree on the bigger picture.”
If the current draft is passed through the legislature, Custer will join District 43 which includes part of Box Butte, Dawes, Sheridan, Grant, Cherry, Hooker, McPherson, Logan, Thomas, Blaine, Brown, Keya Paha, and Loup counties, all of which are represented by Sen. Tom Brewer.
Dawson County would join Perkins, Chase, Dundy, Hayes, Hitchcock, Frontier, Red Willow, Gosper, Furnas, and Harlan counties in District 44 represented by Sen. Dan Hughes.
If the map is approved and signed by Governor Pete Ricketts, Sen. Williams would immediately begin to represent the constituents of District 36 which would be in Sarpy County.
Sen. Williams, who is term-limited, said he will continue to represent those who elected him in every way he can. Earlier this year Williams announced his intention to run for a seat on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.