County supervisors expected to remain, despite redistricting

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Like the state, Plymouth County must draw new district boundaries for elections following the 2010 Census.

Unlike the state, county officials don't think there will be any changes in board members when it comes to the five supervisors who currently represent the county.

"A change is unlikely since the population of Plymouth County changes little as a whole," Supervisor Don Kass said. "We're spread out enough that will probably be the case."

County Auditor Stacey Feldman held a similar view.

"It depends on where the boundaries fall, but I don't foresee a change in our board," she said.

Tuesday the board of supervisors appointed three people to serve on a redistricting committee that will work with the county IT director and election officials to draw the new lines.

Le Mars residents Ralph Klemme, representing the Republican party, and Dennis Wolf, the Democratic party, along with Supervisor Jack E. Guenthner will serve on the committee.

Plymouth is not the only one that has to do redistricting; all Iowa counties face the same task.

"You do it every 10 years based on the Census," Feldman said.

Counties' redistricting doesn't have to correlate with the state's, she added.

To determine how many people need to live in each district, the county's new 24,986 population is divided by the five board of supervisors' districts. That means there would need to be 4,997 people in each district, Feldman said.

The districts' populations must be within 1 percent of each other, roughly 50 people, she said.

Each district can have only one supervisor. Although a change is unexpected, the boundary lines could move and dictate a change in who sits on the board of supervisors, Kass said.

"Hypothetically, if two supervisors land in the same district, the one who is closest to re-election either has to move or choose not to run," he said.

If that were to happen, the supervisor would continue representing the same people until his or her term expired, Kass said.

Kass went through the redistricting process 10 years ago as a committee member prior to serving as a supervisor.

Technology will aid the committee in the redistricting process this year as the Census data can be entered into the county's GIS (geographic information system) mapping database and the lines drawn, Kass said.

Redistricting after the 2000 Census meant sitting down with a pencil and a physical map and drawing lines on it to determine boundaries, he said.

At that time, voting lines changed very little in the redistricting process and all five supervisors retained residence in their districts, Kass said.

Feldman said because there were population changes, either up or down, throughout the county, some of the supervisors' district boundary lines will be revised during the redistricting.

"The districts are established for a reason -- so you have equal representation throughout the county," she said.

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