County considering three plans for commissioner districtsPublished 10:50am Wednesday, April 25, 2012
When it comes to redistricting, Otter Tail County Commissioners are considering three options: the existing layout, a slight tweak, and radically modular.
Commissioners discussed the possibilities Tuesday, and plan to approve a district map May 1. The purpose for redistricting Otter Tail County is to come into state compliance to evenly split the county’s 2010 census population of 57,303 among five districts of 11,461.
County Auditor Wayne Stein presented three proposals from an internal committee for the board to consider for the next 10 years. To stay in compliance, each of the proposals could be within a 10 percent margin of error.
The first proposal was to keep the existing model with all townships in the same districts. All the districts are within the margin of error.
The second plan has Aurdal township moving to District 3, while Oscar, Trondhjem and Dead Lake townships would move to District 2. Districts 4 would not be affected in this move.
The final proposed plan shifted to modular boundaries for districts, requiring the most movement of townships. District 3 would gain Oscar, Elizabeth, Friberg and Maine townships, District 2 would gain Trondhjem, Dead Lake, Edna and Hobart townships, District 4 would get Everts, Clitherall, Eagle Lake, and Leaf Mountain townships and District 1 would gain Otto and Bluffton townships.
Commissioner John Lindquist said he favored the existing district layout, believing more significant changes will be required in 10 years.
“One of the greatest things we are looking at is when the baby boomers retire in 10 years, are we going to have to redistrict again?” Lindquist said.
Richfield resident Mark Stewart suggested an alternative plan that saw District 1 claim several townships that have more lake property like Dead Lake and District 4 collect most of the eastern half of District 1.
“This plan will keep townships with lakes together and townships that have more agricultural background together,” Stewart said.
Commissioner Doug Huebsch said he appreciated Stewart’s idea, but believed elected officials might have a long drive to meet with constituents of certain townships based on their location.
One district that would not change regardless of the plans being considered is District 5, which includes the city of Fergus Falls with the exception of Ward 1, Precinct 2 on the southeast corner. The board discussed whether Ward 1 Precinct 2 could be added to District 5, but Stein said that would put the district above the population average. Fergus Falls’ population in the 2010 census was 13,138.