Special work session next week to come to agreement on new commissioner district maps

The Beltrami County Board will hold a special work session next week to come to an agreement on the new commissioner district maps.

The county has an April 26 deadline to finalize a map.

County Auditor-Treasurer JoDee Treat will present four maps, with an additional proposal drafted during the regular meeting yesterday afternoon.

The county’s ideal district population is around 9,000 people, with requirements from the state including creating compact, contiguous districts that are as equal in population as practical.

The county board has its own directives that include making minimal changes and to ignore commissioner residences.

While the city of Bemidji’s proposed ward map has not yet been finalized, the county board is proceeding with finalizing a map on the assumption that the proposed maps for the city will be adopted.

There is the probability that many commissioners will have to run for re-election this year, despite many recently running for election in 2020, depending on how much each district changes with the redistricting process.

Reed Olson, of the county’s more urban District 2, said bringing similar areas together is among his priorities.

District 1’s Craig Gaasvig disagreed, saying Olson’s preferred map of Proposal 2 moves more county residents into a new district.

Auditor-Treasurer Treat said the “minimal change” guideline is not one set by the state but one of the priorities the board told staff last month.

The board is expected to meet Tuesday, April 12, with a formal vote on a map expected on Tuesday, April 19.

Note: The final map that will be presented at the April 12 work session has not yet been drafted, this story will be updated as soon as it is received.

Link to full redistricting plan slideshow (PDF), last revised March 31.

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