Voters in Manhattan Beach and Fifty Lakes are moving
Voters in Manhattan Beach and Fifty Lakes may have to think twice the next time they are considering Crow Wing County Board candidates.
Tuesday, commissioners picked a redistricting scenario moving Fifty Lakes and Manhattan Beach in the northern part of the county from District 2 to District 5.
With this scenario, presented as one of three best options, the only commissioners who will be up for election this year are the two whose terms are ending at the end of the year. The other scenarios either put Commissioner Paul Thiede, District 2, up for election two years early or put all five commissioners on the fall ballot. Putting all commissioners on the ballot provided the greatest parity in terms of district population.
Manhattan Beach resident Larry Wannebo was the only resident who spoke during the public hearing. Wannebo favored the other option of moving Mission Township from District 2 to District 5. Choosing that option would have put Thiede on the ballot this fall.
Wannebo said District 2 is a fast-growing area. He said having a commissioner from the Pequot Lakes region gives them someone who knows the region and now they may be pitted against a voting bloc from Crosby, leaving them a long way to go to meet with their commissioner.
Commissioner Phil Trusty said he understood Wannebo’s points but someone could be elected from Emily and that would be a distance from Garrison.
Thiede has repeatedly stated he thought the county should look at equalizing the population among the districts and not doing that now could mean more of an issue in the future. But Thiede said that idea has not gotten traction and the other school of thought is against going through the extra election expense to have all the commissioners run. And if all are not going to run, Thiede questioned why his seat would be up for election this year.
Board Chairman Doug Houge, District 5, said no matter where a commissioner lives, if he has a constituent who wants to meet, he’ll go to them even if his district stretched to the North Dakota border.
As part of redistricting, the county has to have as equal a population as possible between districts.
In this redistricting plan there will be: 12,299 voters in District 1; 13,315 voters in District 2; 11,481 in District 3; 13,746 voters in District 4; and 11,659 in District 5.
Districts are not allowed to vary in population more than 10 percent from the average of all the districts in the county. The county has a population of 62,500, the average district population is 12,500.
District 1 covers the entire southern part of the county. District 2 covers Round and Gull lakes before tracking north to include the cities of Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point and Crosslake along with the county’s northwestern section. District 3 is in Brainerd and Baxter. District 4 stretches from Brainerd and Baxter north to Pelican Lake. District 5 includes the Cuyuna Range and covers the county’s northeastern side from Bay Lake to the county’s northern edge.
The commissioners and the districts they represent are Phil Trusty, District 1; Thiede, District 2; Rachel Reabe Nystrom, District 3; Rosemary Franzen, District 4; and Houge, District 5.
Districts must be as compact as possible and contiguous using precinct lines. The county had a deadline of May 1 to make a decision on restricting.
Residents will be getting a letter from the county in July regarding redistricting changes.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.