Share your Wadena County redistricting thoughts on April 12
The public hearing will review a series of proposed maps on April 12 at 7 p.m. at the Sebeka Senior Center. The public can also submit map proposals by April 8 at 4:30 p.m. to the auditor-treasurer’s office.
WADENA — The Wadena County board will highlight redistricting changes on April 12 at 7 p.m. at the Sebeka Senior Center. The meeting is for the public to share their thoughts on a series of proposed maps.
After a judicial panel released the new congressional and legislative boundaries in February, cities and counties have required timelines to reestablish or redistrict their boundaries. The county maps set the commissioner districts based on the most recent United States Census. Wadena County’s population grew 222 residents from 2010 to 2020.
The public can also submit map proposals by April 8 at 4:30 p.m. to the auditor-treasurer’s office. The maps will be presented at the public hearing. The maps need to follow state statutes, such as commissioner districts being within 10% of the average district population, following precinct lines and having five districts.
“This is something that’s going to effect for (a) minimum of 10 years, could be 20, 30 years before we redistrict again,” said commissioner Jon Kangas at the March 15 board meeting. “It is something that people have to look at the long-term numbers too.”
In any district map changes the effect was focused on Kangas’ and Murlyn Kreklau’s districts, or districts 5 and 4 in the northern portion of the county, as that is where a large swing in numbers occurred. Commissioner district 5 is required to redistrict due to the population numbers.
Commissioners briefly reviewed a new map provided by auditor-treasurer Heather Olson in a March 8 work session. The map she proposed was not one that Kangas had suggested, causing some consternation for Kangas.
In designing her map, Olson said her focus was on the voters rather than land mass. Her separation of townships was based on the latest Census numbers, which she said were updated in February. The city of Wadena is expected to have four precincts if there are not any more Census updates.
One significant change that Olson was not going to alter is combining Leaf River Township. Leaf River was previously split between two districts, though Olson said it should not have been done as the split was not based on any geographical boundary or preexisting line. In other words, the county can’t split a township like they had done. The combination also helps decrease the number of voting machines needed.
Here are the proposed map highlights:
- Proposal A: Shell River and Meadow townships to district 4
- Proposal B: Huntersville Township to district 5; Red Eye Township to district 4
- Proposal C: Red Eye and Meadow townships to district 4; Huntersville and Orton townships to district 5
Each of the proposals includes having all of Leaf River Township in district 1.
Because the changes to the districts affected Kangas and Kreklau, there was some concern from Olson that all suggested changes were coming from those two commissioners. Kreklau repeatedly asked to hear from the other commissioners if they had thoughts.
While other map options were included during the regular meeting, commissioners did not have much to offer. Commissioner Bill Stearns was not present.
The public hearing is set for April 12 at 7 p.m. at the Sebeka Senior Center. Notices of the district changes will also be published in the county newspaper for three weeks prior to the hearing.