Proposed ward boundaries move past second hearing

The Bemidji City Council held a public hearing as part of the ordinance process to establish new ward boundaries.

The proposed new boundaries were initially tabled but the majority of the council voted upon the initial proposal in a work session on March 18.

Among those who addressed council was Beltrami County Commissioner Jim Lucachick, whose District 5 includes Ward 3.

Ward 3 councilmember Ron Johnson is slated to be drawn out of his ward and placed into Ward 1.

The state’s deadline for establishing municipal boundaries was March 29, but even if the ordinance wasn’t tabled, the council still would not have had enough time to finalize the ward boundaries with the three readings that can only happen in regular meetings.

Lucachick stressed that the county could not move forward with their redistricting until the city’s boundaries are finalized.

Johnson also took the lectern to say his piece about what he thought of the process during the public hearing and criticized City Clerk Michelle Miller’s decision to extend Ward 1 into what is now Ward 3.

The ordinance amending ward boundaries will have a final reading on Monday, April 18. If any changes are proposed during this reading, the council will have to approve them unanimously. Otherwise, the amendment will be finalized with a majority vote.

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