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Murray County discusses district shifts

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SLAYTON -- The Murray County Commissioners opted Tuesday to host an open meeting at 9 a.m. May 1 regarding the redistricting of the county.

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New redistricted boundaries will go into effect as of the state primary on Aug. 14, 2012, which means most of the counties in Minnesota are working on rearranging their county board districts.

In Murray County, the population is roughly 8,725 and has five districts, which means each district needs to have approximately 1,745 residents. The 2012 redistricting proposal will shift the population in one district by up to 192 residents.

"Currently there are three districts out of compliance," Murray County Auditor-Treasurer Heidi Winter explained. "Districts 1, 3 and 4."

District 4 cannot be split, as it encompasses the city of Slayton precinct. Any changes made to come into compliance must keep a district contiguous, Winter said. The state sent a proposal for changes which the county didn't like, so Winter and her staff worked to come up with a different solution.

"The board is the one that adopts the plan, and it has to take into account the wishes of the people," Winter explained.

District 1, assigned to Commissioner Kevin Vickerman, would lose Lime Lake Township with the proposal, but add Belfast and Mason Townships, changing the population by adding approximately 163 residents. Vickerman, who also oversees Holly, Shetek, Murray, Dovray and DesMoines River Townships, is up for re-election in November.

Leeds Township would then fall into the domain of District 2 Commissioner Robert Moline, who is also up for re-election this year.

Commissioner Gerald Magnus, whose term lasts until 2015, would gain Lime Lake Township into District 3, but lose Leeds Township. Because the population shift would be less than five percent, he would not be subject to re-election because of the change, Winter said.

In District 4, Commissioner John Giese doesn't hit the end of his term until 2015, and would see no changes in his district.

Belfast Township is currently part of District 5, which also includes Bondin Township. In the new proposal, Commissioner Bill Sauer would lose Belfast, leaving his district at a population of about 1,586. Sauer's term is also up at the end of 2012.

"I'm not going to run again," Sauer said, but still expressed concern that his district would lose a township and a significant amount of residents.

"There was no other plan that would not pull another district out of compliance," Winter said, adding that a smaller district would give Sauer a chance to focus more on the residents he does have.

Moline and Vickerman told Winter they had no problem with the proposal, and Winter noted it actually grouped some of the ditch watersheds together.

Her office, she said, looked at roads, school districts and even mutual aid when devising the plan.

Magnus acknowledged he would be giving up Leeds Township and Hadley, but said he grew up in Lime Lake Township and knows many of the residents there.

If the county followed the state plan, he would be taken out of his own district, he said.

Winter said the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office has no jurisdiction over the redistricting, but a resident could ask the state commissioners to come in and draw the boundaries.

For a map of the proposal, go to www.murray-countymn.com.

Anyone who would like to discuss the plan with the board should plan on attending the 9 a.m. meeting May 1.

Daily Globe Reporter Justine Wettschreck can be reached at

376-7322.

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