Commission unveils new district boundaries

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Dickinson County Temporary Redistricting Commissioners on Tuesday unveiled its border-changing recommendations for the five Dickinson County Board of Supervisor districts.

Their work is similar to what state officials accomplished earlier in the year when new Iowa House, Iowa Senate and Congressional boundaries were drawn.

Boundary changes are necessary to reflect population shifts in the county. Based on 2010 U.S. Census numbers, each county supervisor would ideally represent 3,334 constituents, according to Dickinson County Auditor Nancy Reiman. The redistricting commission has to come within 1 percent of that ideal for each of the county's five districts.

The proposed new districts appear to meet those standards, pending a review from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office.

"At this point, we anticipate it will be approved all the way through on the first try," Reiman said. "But nothing is set in stone."

None of the incumbent supervisors were thrown together in the same district. Some of the county leaders will have new neighborhoods and farmsteads to learn, however.

Pending final approval, Paul Johnson resides in the new District 4, a sprawling territory covering the western part of Dickinson County. Mardi Allen is the resident incumbent in District 2, which covers much of the eastern part of the county.

The remaining three districts are drawn in and around the population centers near the Iowa Great Lakes and Highway 71. William Leupold lives in the new District 1, covering much of the area around Big Spirit Lake. David Gottsche has a centralized District 3, just south of the the Highway 71-86 junction. Pam Jordan resides in the county's most densely-populated proposed district, including an urban area bracketing East Lake Okoboji.

"I think the most alarming thing is the fact that the supervisor area for your district and Mardi's district are so big," commission member Owen Primavera, Jr. told Johnson at Tuesday's public hearing. "It covers such a big area, it would have been nice to narrow that down a little bit instead of making it the way it was -- but we couldn't do it."

Reiman said the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors will vote on the commission's proposed final map at its Tuesday, Sept. 6 board meeting. An ordinance describing the plan will then have to be adopted after multiple readings.

From there, the plan will go to the Iowa Secretary of State's Office.

The boundaries for voting precincts also will change and new boundaries will be in place before Iowa's first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses in February.

"It looks like the supervisors were pretty agreeable with the plan," Reiman said.

Commissioners joining Primavera were Bonnie Fokken, Joy Janachovsky and Wayne Northey of Spirit Lake, Milo Kindwall and Ruth Ann VanDonslear of Milford and Marilyn Lewis of Terril.

The commission members received guide books and spreadsheets on Aug. 2 as they went through the basics of redistricting. The commission's finished product has to go through the public hearing and ordinance process by Oct. 15.

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