County adopts redistricting map; NB gets 3 reps

By MaryHelen Swanson—

The Friday night lights were on at the Chisago County Government Center as the county commissioners gathered at 8 p.m. to act on adoption of a new district map.

While 5th District Commissioner Mike Robinson and 3rd District Commissioner George McMahon expressed some concern over three commissioners being assigned to North Branch, the board still unanimously approved what was called Option 6. (See map)

As District 1 Commissioner Lora Walker noted as she made the motion to adopt the new district map, Option 6 doesn’t unseat any current commissioner.

Robinson did say that he had heard some people may challenge the new map.

McMahon also shared that he believed three commissioners in one city is an issue, but he also believed that this option was the closest to what the county has had for years.

District 4 Commissioner Ben Montzka added that in the 14 years he’s been on the board, the commissioners have always done what is best.

The vote was unanimous.

The other item on the agenda that night was to determine commissioner terms.

County Administrator Bruce Messelt provided the board with three options: follow the historic pattern, use the recent election, or go with random selection.

Robinson felt they should stay with the historic pattern, going back 30-40 years. He also noted that 10 years ago, at the last redistricting, the board didn’t even deal with terms.

When he moved to maintain the historic pattern, there was no second to his motion.

With his motion dead, another motion was made to randomly select either a 4-year term or 2-year term in two groups 1) Districts 1,3,5 and 2) Districts 2,4.

But Walker argued for a completely random selection and she offered a substitute motion (that superseded the motion on the floor) to have each individual district select through a drawing process, with three 4-year terms and two 2-year terms on the table.

The motion was approved on a 3-2 vote with commissioners Robinson and McMahon opposed.

Using an online process at Random. org, Messelt, acting as parliamentarian, entered the necessary information to obtain the sequence for selection, and using pieces of paper in a cookie jar, the drawing was completed.

The results are as follows:

District 1 – 2-year term

District 2 – 4-year term

District 3 – 4-year term

District 4 – 2-year term

District 5 – 4-year term

A motion by McMahon, with a second by Commissioner Rick Greene, to adopt the terms, was unanimously approved.

Montzka said he believed the process used was the fairest way to handle the term selection.

Robinson said it was the wrong way to handle government.

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