Rice County Commissioners Agree on Redistricting Map

The board is expected to approve the map Tuesday at its next meeting.

In what turned out to be a relatively painless process, the Rice County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday came to an agreement on a county redistricting map.

The board is expected to approve the map Tuesday at its next meeting.

If approved, the new map will keep the majority of Northfield in District 2, as it has been for the past 10 years. The district, however, loses Dundas, which would move to District 1, which also would include Northfield's Ward 2, Precinct 1 and Ward 4, Precinct 2. Northfield's Ward 3, Precinct 2 is in Dakota County and wasn't taken into consideration for this map.

The new map gives Northfield two county commissioners instead of three, as it has had for the past 10 years.

Under the current system, Commissioner Galen Malecha represents the majority of Northfield and all of Dundas in District 2. Commissioner Jake Gillen in District 1 represents one Northfield precinct on the east and Commissioner Jeff Docken in District 5 represents one precinct on the west.

The new map also gives Faribault two commissioners—one completely within the city limits representing about half the residents and another representing the other half of of the city and Wells Township. Faribault currently has three commissioners, though none of them live within city limits.

All five county commissioners are up for re-election this year.

Why redistrict?

The new maps are called for every 10 years following the Census. All levels of government redraw their political boundaries.

When , three key principles are taken into consideration.

They are: equal populations, the necessity that districts must touch one another and compactness of district shape, with circle and square districts being preferable.

There are also more nuanced social and political criteria to consider.

For instance, districts should preserve communities of interest, such as cities, counties and school boards, while also ensuring political competitiveness, according to Karen Saxe, a voting and electoral theory researcher and member at-large of the League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls board of directors. And, she added, district lines should not be drawn to dilute minority representation or intentionally protect or defeat incumbents. 

Be sure to check back Saturday for Commissioner Galen Malecha's weekly Rice County Review video to get his thoughts on the new districts. 

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