May 4, 2012 at 10:37 a.m.
Relying on a mix of good old fashioned slips-of-paper and a computer program that randomly sequences numbers-- the County Board arrived at new commissioner districts and decided terms for election cycles, in a special meeting Friday night.
The map of the new districts, Option 6, was adopted unanimously. This has been one of a couple of options the commissioners have expressed preference for since the Board first reviewed redistricting maps a few weeks ago.
Option 6 provides the least metamorphosis of existing boundaries, meeting the “minimal” revisions point in the state redistricting statutes. It also results in districts with similar populations of comparable community interests, ie: St. Croix River corridor, Hwy. 8.
Commissioner Mike Robinson said he “has heard” there will be a court challenge if Option 6 ends up being the choice. County Attorney Janet Reiter said she is confident it is “defendable” as a viable map of redistricting.
The vote on Lora Walker’s motion was 5-0 for Option 6.
Then it came time to set the future terms of office. Commissioner Robinson motioned to stay with districts 1, 3 and 5 as four year terms. Even-numbered districts would be two-year terms. This is the “historic pattern.”
He got no second and the motion died.
His second motion to put districts into a hat and literally draw for terms but still leaving the staggering odd and even numbers-- was seconded but, in discussion Commissioner Walker made a “superceding” motion.
Commissioner Walker said she only supports the most random drawing for how long terms are and which districts would have which term length attached to them.
Commissioner Ben Montzka said he felt at least three districts must have four-year terms in order to create the staggered ballot, so he suggested amending Walker’s motion to first allow for districts to be designated. This was accepted and passed 3-2 with McMahon and Robinson opposed. McMahon was concerned about how North Branch would end up, if its three districts would all be up for election at the same time, but it didn’t work out that way in drawing.
County Administrator Bruce Messelt then utilized a random sequence generator program on a laptop computer to determine which of the five commissioner districts selects first from a cookie jar full of slips of paper with “2” and “4” on them for length of those commissioners’ terms.
County Attorney Janet Reiter pulled the paper slips from the jar.
District 5 was sequenced by the computer and came up first, and it is a four year term.
Districts 2 and 3 are also four-year terms.
Districts 1 and 4 will be the two-year terms.
All seats are up for election in November 2012. The terms start with those who are elected at that point.
On motion by McMahon the designation of these terms was adopted on a 5-0 vote.