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County redistricting proposals draws few public comments

WILLMAR -- A process to redistrict Kandiyohi County's five commissioner districts is drawing little, if any, public comment.

Only one person showed up for the second informational meeting Monday night, and that individual, Kim Larson of rural Willmar, came out of curiosity and didn't express any concerns.

County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he's had no phone calls with questions or comments about the seven different proposals that are being considered.

The Commissioners also said they haven't had feedback either.

Chairman Richard Larson said that was partly because the county has reasonable proposals to review.

Auditor Sam Modderman and his staff "gave us many options" to consider, said Larson Monday night following a brief informational meeting on the issue.

Kleindl said having the maps available for viewing on the county's website may also have helped.

Modderman and Kleindl had drafted six maps for shifting the population in districts to meet state guidelines based on the 2010 Census figures.

Last Tuesday a citizen -- Donnel Williamson, who said he intends to run for county board, offered another option that also meets the criteria.

Redistricting is required every 10 years to reflect population shifts based on the census.

In Kandiyohi County, the average population of each district needs to be 8,448. For redistricting a 10 percent variance is allowed, which means the population of each district needs to be between 7,603 and 9,292.

To get between that bracket, township or city wards can be shifted from one district to another.

If that shift is more than five percent of the average population of each district, the commissioner in that district must run for reelection, whether their terms are up or not.

In every single scenario, Commissioner Harlan Madsen from District 5 must run for reelection, even though his term expires in 2014, because his district lost about 600 people during the last decade.

Because the commissioner seats in District 2 and 4 are up for election because their terms expire, there will be a minimum of three commissioner seats open for election this fall, no matter what plan is selected.

Several of the maps and scenarios would involve enough shifts that all five commissioner districts would be up for election.

While most of the Commissioners haven't expressed an opinion about which plan they prefer, Commissioner Dean Shuck of rural Sunburg said he prefers the two plans that would mean elections in just three of the districts.

Additional maps will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Commissioners will hold a public hearing on all the proposals at 11:30 a.m. April 3 during the regular county board meeting.

They will likely vote at that time, although they could delay a decision until April 17. Counties have until May 1 to finalize redistricting maps.

The maps can be viewed at the county auditor's office or online at www.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750