Two Democratic legislators could represent a more conservative electorate once all the House and Senate districts are redrawn this year.

Two Democratic legislators could represent a more conservative electorate once all the House and Senate districts are redrawn this year.

Sen. Alan Bates of Medford and Rep. Peter Buckley of Ashland need to add more residents based on numbers derived from the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population numbers.

"Where my district is located, I do think it will take in more conservative voters — and that's fine," said Buckley, who is in House District 5, which stretches from Ashland to Ruch.

However, Rep. Mike McLane, a Prineville Republican, has to shed 2,778 residents in District 55, which stretches from Medford to east of the Cascades. A portion of McLane's district could end up in Bates' or Buckley's districts.

The Oregon House and Senate redistricting committees will meet at noon today at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center's multi-purpose room, 101 S. Bartlett St., Medford.

They will listen to comments from community members interested in maintaining districts that represent areas with common goals.

The committees will have to redraw boundaries to come up with an even number of voters in each district.

Each Senate district should represent 127,702 residents, while each House district should represent 63,851 residents. The numbers are derived by taking the entire population of the state and dividing it by the 60 House seats, or the 30 Senate seats.

As a side note, the Census Bureau's figures show that most House and Senate districts in Jackson County have a higher number of minorities than they did in 2000. Esquivel's district's minority population increased from 19 percent to 26 percent of residents during that period, while Bates' district grew from 17 percent to 24 percent.

The redistricting process can sometimes turn heated.

In 2000, both Sen. Jason Atkinson and Alan Bates, then a representative, were carved out of their districts. Atkinson moved from Jacksonville to Central Point to stay in his district, while Bates moved from Eagle Point to Ashland.

Atkinson is a member of the Senate Redistricting Committee and has been critical of what he calls the "gerrymandering" that took place 10 years ago.

"It is still such a raw nerve in the Legislature that people want to go back and fix those things," said Atkinson, whose Senate District 2 stretches from western Jackson County to Josephine County.

Portland, Atkinson said, looks like an octopus because of the redistricting that occurred there.

He said that so far there appears to be a willingness to keep politics out of the redistricting process.

Bates said he has been too buried in ongoing budget debates to pay much attention to redistricting.

He said he will be relying on the two legislative committees to come up with a fair solution to the complex task of redistricting.

Rep. Sal Esquivel, a Medford Republican who is on the House Redistricting Committee, said it makes sense to him that Bates and Buckley would absorb more of McLane's district, which stretches from east of the Cascades to Medford.

"There is no sense cutting up Medford more than it is," he said.

Esquivel, who is in House District 6 in Medford, said he didn't think Bates' re-election prospects would be impacted too much by taking such a small number of voters from a more conservative area.

In the 2010 election, Bates won by only 282 votes over his Republican opponent, Dave Dotterrer of Ashland.

Esquivel said some of the more difficult areas up for redistricting include the coast, the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon.

Buckley said there are likely many scenarios for redistricting that will play out. For instance, he said he could see a case being made for inclusion of more of the Applegate Valley in his district.

He said he has confidence the redistricting committees will come up with a fair plan.

"The attempt is to try not to politicize the process," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.