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Kandiyohi County, Minn., commissioners hold first public review of redistricting map

Sam Modderman, Kandiyohi County auditor comments Tuesday on a report about redistricting during a meeting in Willmar. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- A public review Tuesday of options for redistricting the Kandiyohi County commissioners' districts generated interest from people who intend to run for election for those new, redrawn seats.

Six people attended the county board meeting to hear the details, including four who say they'll run for county board this year.

One of the candidates lives in a township that gets bounced between two different districts on the various plans.

Donnel Williamson, who lives on the edge of Irving Township, said he'll run for office no matter which district his home township ends up in.

The commissioners must realign boundaries of some of the five districts to reflect a change in population that's documented in the 2010 Census report.

County Administrator Larry Kleindl gave an overview of the narrow requirements and mathematical formulas that must be followed to meet the letter of the law when shuffling townships from one district to another.

"You can't just go tic-tac-toe," he said. "You have to meet the rules.

Kleindl also displayed maps of six proposals that he and Auditor Sam Modderman developed for the board to consider.

Depending on which plan is approved next month, anywhere from three to five commissioner seats will be open for election.

The law requires that if the population of a district shifts more than 5 percent of the average district population an election must be held, even if the term of that commissioner isn't up for another two years.

In Kandiyohi County, the terms of commissioners Dennis Peterson of Spicer and Richard Larson of Willmar are up and neither intends to run for re-election.

In all the proposed plans, Commissioner Harlan Madsen of rural Lake Lillian must run again for election even though his term isn't up until 2014.

Some of the maps leave Irving Township in Peterson's District 4, where it is now. Other proposals move it to Madsen's District 5.

Williamson offered an alternative map that appeared to meet the guidelines that would keep Irving Township in Peterson's district.

If that happens, Williamson would run for the open seat in District 4, along with Roger Imdieke and Mike O'Brien, who were also at the meeting and said they intend to run for the position.

If Irving Township is moved to District 5, Williamson would run against Madsen, who confirmed Tuesday he will seek another term in office.

Doug Reese, a current Willmar city councilman who was also at the county board meeting, said he intends to run for Larson's open seat in District 2.

Other plans would mean the other sitting commissioners -- Jim Butterfield and Dean Shuck -- would also have to run for re-election.

The public has until 4:30 p.m. March 29 to submit alternative maps.

The commissioners will hold another informational meeting on the redistricting plans at 7 p.m. Monday in the second-floor board room of the Health and Human Services Building. A public hearing will be held at 11:30 a.m. April 3, when the final plan is expected to be adopted. The county has until May 1 to finalize a map.

There's plenty of time for more candidates to consider running for office. Filing for office begins May 22.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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