At today’s (Tuesday, April 26) meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, the board continued a public hearing concerning the potential redistricting of two county commissioner districts – a process that required a pair of 3-2 votes to reach a conclusion.
In late-2021, when Census population data was released and disseminated, it was determined that all five commissioner districts were within the threshold of population that redistricting wouldn’t be necessary.
At a public hearing at the April 19 board meeting, members of the public came forward proposing that the largest district (District 3 with a population of 30,192) had almost 4,000 more residents than District 4 (26,253) be able to switch two jurisdictions – shifting two precincts from St. Michael (10,176 people) from District 3 to District 4 and moving Albertville (7,896 people) from District 4 to District 3. Under the current configuration, St. Michael was represented in two commissioner districts – the only jurisdiction in Wright County to have two commissioners.
With that proposed change, the populations of the five commissioner districts would have a population difference of just 806 from the largest district to the smallest and District 3 would go from being the most populated district to the least populated. The problem with the switch in the makeup of the District 3 and District 4 was that it would require sitting District 4 Commissioner Mary Wetter to run for re-election after two years in office. It would have also triggered an election for District 3 Commissioner Mark Daleiden, but his seat was already scheduled for election in November and Daleiden has announced he won’t seek another term.
The board authorized drawing up maps to show the differences before a vote was taken – today’s meeting was the deadline date for submitting a redistricting plan to the state.
The public hearing lasted almost 30 minutes before coming back to the board after several residents spoke out on both sides of the issue. After some discussion in which commissioners explained their rationale for choosing a map, Daleiden made a motion to keep the current commissioner districts (Map 1). The motion was seconded by Wetter, but failed 3-2 when the other three commissioners voted against it.
Commissioner Darek Vetsch then made a motion to approve the revised commissioner districts (Map 2). The motion laid in limbo as Commissioner Mike Kaczmarek declined to second the motion. After calling for a second to the motion three times, Board Chair Christine Husom passed the gavel to Vetsch (the vice-chair) and seconded the motion. The roll call vote passed the revised commissioner district map 3-2, with Husom, Vetsch and Kaczmarek voting in favor and Wetter and Daleiden opposed.
Click here to see redistricting Map 1 https://www.co.wright.mn.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/10594?fileID=23024 and Map 2 https://www.co.wright.mn.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/10594?fileID=23025 as well as the revised population totals for both maps.
The YouTube livestream video of the meeting can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEkFrm6xiiQ. The public hearing begins at the 32:30 mark.