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New legislative maps place some incumbents in same districts, scramble boundaries in west central region

Willmar's Republican Sen. Joe Gimse likes the district map and says he looks forward to campaigning there. Tribune photo by Don Davis

WILLMAR -- New legislative maps have put two incumbent state House members and two incumbent state senators in the same districts in west central Minnesota.

Legislative and congressional district boundaries are redrawn every decade, based on new census figures. The special redistricting panel appointed by the Supreme Court released the new legislative and congressional maps on Tuesday.

All of the legislative districts in the area have new boundaries and new numbers.

The new boundaries will be used by candidates in the 2012 elections and for the next 10 years.

Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, and Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, live in the same new House District 17A, and Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, also live in the new Senate District 17.

They are among 15 pairs of representatives and eight pairs of senators who now live in the same districts.

Koenen and Falk did not return messages left for them on Tuesday afternoon.

Koenen lives in District 20B and Falk in District 20A now.

Kubly represents Senate District 20 now, and Gimse represents District 13. Kubly has already said that he does not plan to run for another term in the Senate.

Gimse said he likes the new district map and looks forward to campaigning there. "It's agricultural economy, not unlike what I've represented before with Pope and Stearns," he said.

District 13 included Kandiyohi and Pope counties and part of Stearns County. District 17 includes Kandiyohi, Swift and Chippewa counties and most of Renville County.

The new district includes Benson, Clara City and Montevideo, "towns I'm quite familiar with," Gimse said. "Renville County is a familiar area for me."

Gimse said he had thought the new district might expand to the east, not to the south and west, "but it is what it is, and it looks like a good district," he said.

Rep. Bruce Vogel, R-Willmar, didn't see a major change in the boundary of the district he represents. He lives in District 13B, which includes Kandiyohi County except for some northern townships. The new District 17B includes all of Kandiyohi County except for some southwestern townships.

Vogel said he's fine with the change, and he'll look forward to campaigning in the new district.

"It's nice and scenic up in the northern part of the county," he said. "I'm pretty content."

Rural districts get bigger every 10 years, as the population shifts to urban and suburban districts. "We've just got to get more people out to rural Minnesota," Vogel said. "It would help the look of the districts."

Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, saw his district shift north. He represents the northern townships of Kandiyohi County along with Pope County and part of Stearns County in District 13A. The new District 12B covers parts of Stearns, Pope and Douglas counties.

"I will certainly miss my morning breakfasts in Sunburg and going to Sibley State Park as its state representative," he said.

Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, saw smaller shifts in his district, too. He represents District 18B, which includes most of Meeker County and parts of Wright County. The new district 18A includes all of Meeker County with a small portion of Wright County and northwestern McLeod County.

Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties, now part of Senate District 20, will be part of the new Senate District 16, which includes counties south of the Minnesota River stretching from Brown County to the South Dakota border.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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