MARSHALL - Members of the Lyon County Board got their first look at possible redistricting plans for commissioner wards on Tuesday morning. Three different options were examined, although actual decisions on redistricting won't be made until next month. A date for a public hearing on redistricting was also set in April.
Redistricting is done every 10 years, after new census data is released to Minnesota cities and counties. Because three of Lyon County's commissioner districts include wards in the city of Marshall, the county needs to wait until the city's redistricting process is complete before beginning its own. The city has until the end of March to adopt new voting wards.
Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg presented three possible county redistricting options to commissioners at their regular meeting. All three options used the new wards that are currently being considered by the city of Marshall, but included different combinations of townships to make up county wards with balanced populations.
The first option Stomberg presented kept all cities and townships in the same county commissioner districts as they are currently. District populations would have no more than a 6 percent difference from each other. The three commissioner districts that include the city of Marshall would need to file for election in 2012.
Other possible options for the county, Stomberg said, would bring district populations even closer to being even, but would require all five commissioners' seats to be up for election this fall. In one possible plan, Stomberg said the county would be divided into eastern and western portions, with Eidsvold, Westerheim, Nordland, Island Lake, Lynd, Coon Creek, Lyons, Shelburne and Rock Lake townships in the same district, and Lucas, Stanley, Clifton, Sodus, Amiret, Custer and Monroe townships sharing another district. Marshall Ward 3 would share a district with Vallers and Fairview townships. Grandview Township and Marshall Ward 1 would be in the same district, and Lake Marshall Township and Marshall Ward 2 would share a district. District populations would be within 1.9 percent of each other, Stomberg said.
The third possible plan would divide the county into northern and southern portions. The northernmost district would include Eidsvold, Westerheim, Vallers, Lucas, Nordland, Grandview, Stanley, Island Lake and Clifton townships. The southern district would include Coon Creek, Lyons, Sodus, Amiret, Shelburne, Rock Lake, Custer and Monroe townships. Fairview Township and Marshall Ward 3 would share a district, Lake Marshall Township and Marshall Ward 2 would share a district, and Lynd Township and Marshall Ward 1 would share a district. District populations would be within 2.4 percent of each other, and would align better with new legislative districts, Stomberg said.
Additional configurations could be made, Stomberg said, but the county has a "short window" for forming a redistricting committee. Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer Paula VanOverbeke said county residents could also submit their own proposals at a public hearing.
Commissioners said each option had good points, as well as possible drawbacks. Commissioner Rick Anderson said he was concerned that the plans with the most even district populations would require all five commissioners' seats to go up for election at once.
Commissioner Bob Fenske said he didn't think grouping the eastern and western townships together made sense. Cities and townships in the northern and southern halves of the county would have more concerns in common.
"I like (the north-south option)," Fenske said, although he added, "I know that all five commissioners would have to run again."
A public hearing on county redistricting was set for 7 p.m. on April 17 in the commissioners' rooms.