--Compiled by Wes Volkenant, Treasurer, LWV ABC
I was asked to share my observations about the impact of redistricting in the Anoka County and northern Hennepin County areas that our League of Women Voters - Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids serves. The number of legislative districts in our area has increased, and many incumbent legislators have been impacted: There is a detailed description of the changes later in this post.
The next step in redistricting is local redistricting. LWV-ABC has a small committee composed of myself, Mel Aanerud and Colleen Werdien working on creating one or two draft Anoka County Commissioner district maps to submit to the County Board by early-April, as Cities prepare their new precinct lines by March 29, and the County Board and School Boards prepare their new maps by April 26. Watch this blog and the LWV ABC newsletter for an update in May.
Looking at the new lines… the judicial panel that issued new Congressional and Legislative maps clearly stated that substantial re-drawing of the district lines is the job of the Legislature; as a judicial panel, they tweaked existing lines to account for population shifts only. In our area, we see that the one Congressional change was moving Anoka and a sliver of Ramsey (south of Highway 10), to the 3rd Congressional District.
The principle of tweaking the existing districts continued at the Legislative level, but led to, what I would characterize as, considerable change. The first thing I would point out is that versus the six partial or full Senate Districts Anoka County was previously divided into, it will now be divided into eight full or partial districts - 27, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36 and 39.
Many incumbent legislators have been impacted: Sen. John Hoffman will be solely in Hennepin County, Sen. Jim Abeler adds most of Coon Rapids, Sen. Jerry Newton will unretire to campaign in 35B House seat; DFLer Zack Stevenson and Republican John Heinrich were paired Representatives in 35A; Rep. Nolan West will run in the more northerly 32A; and with Republicans Peggy Scott and Cal Bahr paired in 31B, Rep. Bahr filed for the open Senate seat. Contests that will have neither a current Senator or Representative running are House seats 31A and 32B, and Senate 32.
Are you still unsure about your new District? Use this handy informative tool that was developed by MPR: https://dhmontgomery.shinyapps.io/redistricting-widget-final/. Interactive House and Senate maps of the Districts are located at: https://www.gis.lcc.mn.gov/redist2020/plans.php?plname=L2022&pltype=court. We have a more detailed discussion of the changes to the lines for our new legislative districts - click Read More.
House Redistricting Committee Hearings
The House has three remote (virtual) hearings scheduled as follows to present, review and approve draft legislative and congressional maps for Minnesota:
Senate Redistricting Committee
No further hearings of the Senate Redistricting Committee have been announced to date. There is expected to be at least one more public input session before the Senate takes additional testimony.
Court Special Redistricting Panel
Watch for information on the Supreme Court Special Redistricting Panel hearings for oral arguments and transcripts of public hearings. While the opportunity for public testimony has ended, parties to the lawsuit must submit proposed maps by December 7 with oral arguments scheduled for January 4. You can observe oral arguments on line or view a recording. A recording of the November 3rd oral arguments on redistricting principles can be viewed here Minnesota Special Redistricting Panel Oral Arguments, November 3, 2021 - YouTube
In many of the larger cities and almost all counties, local redistricting is underway, even if you can't see it. We are working with several local Leagues regarding how to send letters to county commissions, city councils, and charter commissions on establishing redistricting principles for local redistricting. This includes working to identify and partner with other community organizations to co-sign or endorse these letters to bring greater public attention to bear on the redistricting process in counties and cities with wards. If you are planning to wait until February, or if you're being told "nothing can be done until legislative lines are drawn", you will be too late and will have limited opportunity to impact how maps will be drawn. If you have questions about local redistricting or want more information about how to engage in this process, see our Local Redistricting Action kit on the LWV MN website here or contact me by email or phone. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-295-0489)
LWV ABC Treasurer Wes Volkenant took a look at these maps to see what these changes would mean in the LWV ABC area. Here's his analysis of a couple of potential changes and the possible political impacts of the changes:
Peter Wattson and LWVMN have issued their non-partisan Minnesota redistricting map proposals for Congressional, State Senate and State House districts. My early analysis shows that they've taken the approach that many expect the judicial panel assigned to redistrict the State, to take in a few months - no major changes in design; but even small changes would have an impact on each of our areas. They also attempted to keep as few Counties split as possible on the Congressional maps, and as few cities/towns split, as possible, on their legislative maps.
Currently, our area is represented in Congress primarily by the 6th District's Tom Emmer, with Dean Phillips' 3rd District covering Coon Rapids and the 5th District's Ilhan Omar representing southern Anoka County. In the LWVMN's proposal, the City of Anoka joins Coon Rapids in the 3rd District, while the rest of the County would remain unchanged. However, the proposed 6th District, in losing the St. Cloud area, would become more of a Twin Cities wrap-around, adding additional parts of Carver County and adding Scott County in exchange for the area given over to the 7th District. In LWVMN's proposal, the 6th and 7th would be firm Republican seats, the 4th and 5th would be overwhelmingly Democratic seats, the 3rd would remain a solid Democratic hold, the 1st and 8th would be competitive lean-Republican Congressional seats, and the 2nd a lean-Democratic seat. No current Republican would be moved into another's District.
In the State Legislative mapping proposal, actually quite a few current members across the State would be drawn into districts held by another member, including one situation in our LWV-ABC area. The current Jim Abeler District 35 would become more Republican, as it would lose its Coon Rapids precincts and see Nowthen, southern Oak Grove and northeastern Andover join the rest of Andover, Anoka and Ramsey as a new proposed district. The Champlin portion of John Hoffman's Coon Rapids/Champlin District 36 would stay on the Hennepin side of the river and combine with parts of Dayton and Brooklyn Park to form a new DFL-leaning district. In the new proposal, Coon Rapids, which has split three ways (Jerry Newton is Senator in District 37 in eastern Coon Rapids), would instead be the solidified, principal part of a new DFL-leaning district, that would also include parts of western Blaine.
Michele Benson's Republican District 31 covering northern Anoka County, would lose portions to the Jim Abeler district, and would expand north and northeastward out of Anoka County into an even more Republican voting base. And, the current southern Anoka County District 41 held by Mary Kunesh would remain relatively unchanged as a DFL stronghold, with parts of northwestern Ramsey County staying tied to Fridley, Columbia Heights and Hilltop. It does appear Spring Lake Park would be moved into the northern portion of this District, as well, and in this proposal, current House members Feist and Bernardy would be drawn into the same District, while current member Koegel would be drawn away from her current Coon Rapids/Blaine base into the other House seat of that Senate district. This would be an area of the local mapping that I would keep an eye on when the judges' version is released.
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