At its Tuesday (April 19) meeting, the Wright County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing regarding county commissioner districts. For the first time in 50 years, the populations of the five county commissioner districts were close enough in population that it wouldn’t require the commissioner lines to be redrawn.
Otsego City Council member Tina Goede and Albertville Mayor Jillian Hendrickson chose to speak up regarding the commissioner districts. While the county board has the authority to take no action and sticking with the original plan, Goede and Hendrickson pointed out that District 3 is growing disproportionally to the other commissioner districts. In the last 10 years, Otsego has grown almost 50 percent and more than half of St. Michael – which saw the second-highest population growth – is in the same district.
Now is the only time in the next 10 years that redistricting can be done (redistricting only follows a Census). They proposed redistricting two jurisdictions – moving the 10,176 residents from St. Michael Precinct 1B from District 3 to District 4 and moving the 7,896 residents from Albertville from District 4 to District 3.
As the districts currently stand, District 3 is the largest commissioner district (30,192). It has almost 1,500 more people than the next-largest district (District 5 at 28,718) and almost 4,000 more people than District 4 (26,253). The other point of contention was that St. Michael is the only city or township in Wright County that is currently represented by two commissioners. Under the proposed redistricting change, District 3 would go from the largest district to the smallest, the difference between the largest and smallest district would be 806 people and all districts would be within 450 people of the average district size (28,267).
The biggest difference a change would create is that the impacted districts would require an election in November. In District 3 that wouldn’t be an issue because it was already scheduled to have an election in November and District 3 Commissioner Mark Daleiden is not seeking re-election. However, District 4 Commissioner Mary Wetter, who is the second year of her term, would have to run for re-election to keep her seat because the population configuration of her district changed by more than 5 percent – District 4 changes by 36.5 percent if the redistricting plan takes effect, while the population of District 3 would change by 28.9 percent.
The county board voted to continue the public hearing for its next meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 26 at the old Government Center in downtown Buffalo – the last day the county has to present any redistricting plan to the state. The board will take public input and decide at that point which of the two options to take – staying with the current commissioner districts or flipping Albertville and the eastern portion of St. Michael to new districts. To see the current commissioner district map, click here: https://www.co.wright.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/21288/2021-2022-Commissioner-District-map?bidId=