Board approves redistricting

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2002

Redistricting is history after the Mower County Board of Commissioners approved their plan.

There were no objections. In fact, there was little comment except to praise the plan adopted by the county board

Redistricting is the effort every decade to ensure fair representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The only data used is the census, which means population shifts can impact on representation in Congress, state legislatures, county courthouses and township halls.

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The county board's action Tuesday completed the process. There were no significant changes in any Mower County municipalities' own plan prior to the county board's action.

The commissioners held a public hearing to take input before acting on the plan that was presented to them by county staff and directed by Mower County Auditor Woody Vereide.

In the plan presented to the commissioners, Vereide and Daryl W. Franklin, county planner and zoning administrator, were allowed a margin of five percent in the distribution of population among five commissioner districts.

"We're darn close in all the districts," said Vereide. "The figures are only 2.5 percent off and that's about as good as it can get."

Key to the county's plan was the city of Austin's own redistricting plan approved and adopted two weeks ago.

The city, Mower County's population center, dominates four of five commissioner districts.

According to census 2000 figures, it has 3,750 of District No. 1's 7,734 population;

3,906 of District No. 3's 7,617 population (Austin township has another 1,396); all of District No. 4's 7,754 population; and all of district No. 5's 7,915 population.

Only District No. 2 comprised of 12 townships and eight cities outside Austin stands alone.

According to the census 2000 figures, Mower County's population is 38,603.

David Hillier, 3rd District county commissioner, noted the city's redistricting plan split one residential subdivision into two separate wards for voting purposes.

Vereide said the city could not have done it any other way. "We must use streets and waterways as boundary lines. Nothing else. Commissioner District No. 3 is an example. District No. 5 gained an area in southwest Austin because of the lines that were drawn and where the population shift occurred," Vereide said.

Also, the county auditor pointed out to the commissioners that District No. 4 also expanded, gaining 703 residents in the new plan.

Garry Ellingson, District No. 5 commissioner, made the motion to approve the county's plan and it was seconded by Richard P. Cummings, 1st district commissioner. The five commissioners voted unanimously for the plan.