Redistricting could affect 2002 races

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2001

Redrawing the borders of the local legislative districts could create some new political match ups for the 2002 election season, said Rep.

Saturday, April 28, 2001

Redrawing the borders of the local legislative districts could create some new political match ups for the 2002 election season, said Rep. Henry Kalis, DFL-Walters, including one possibility in our area.

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Kalis said District 27 could expand west far enough to encompass Walters, where he makes his home. That could pit Kalis against Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, in a campaign for District 27A representative.

&uot;I’ve seen a couple of maps that suggest that could happen. My current district (26B) and District 27A will have to expand to draw in more people,&uot; Kalis said.

If redistricting does place the town of Walters in a new district, Kalis is comfortable with the prospect of representing Albert Lea.

&uot;For 28 years I’ve been representing small towns, small cities and farmers. I see Albert Lea fitting in to that continuity,&uot; said Kalis. &uot;I have a son that lives in Albert Lea, and my wife and I have a lot of connections there.&uot;

The districts of the state are redrawn every ten years after the U.S. Census Bureau releases its findings. Though the parties in each house, plus the governor’s office, each put together a redistricting plan, the courts usually decide the final outcome.

&uot;I don’t spend too much energy worrying about redistricting,&uot; said Dorman. &uot;I don’t really have any control over it. I’ll just deal with it when the time comes.&uot;

Dorman said his district needs to add about 4,000 residents to reach its optimum population. He expects the boundaries to move north and west, possibly to towns like Wells, New Richland or even further.

&uot;Usually the plans try to stick with county borders, but it’s not always possible,&uot; Dorman said.

Sen. Grace Schwab, R-Albert Lea, said her senate district could move north and east, possibly even incorporating portions of Rochester. The current northeast border of district 27A is only 15 miles away from Rochester, she said.

Schwab said her district would ideally have about 72,000 residents.

&uot;I don’t think the makeup of the district will change that much however the borders move,&uot; she said. &uot;I think redistricting will mean some small adjustments for us, but other districts have much more drastic situations.&uot;

Schwab said her colleague from the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, Sen. Debbie Johnson, R-Ham Lake, has a district that will shrink in area because it gained more than 20,000 residents.

&uot;I know of some other examples like that, or on the other end of the spectrum where rural districts are going to become huge in size because they lost so many people,&uot; Schwab said.

Schwab doesn’t think the legislature will have the opportunity to address redistricting in the current session. It’s more likely the state will redraw the lines during the bonding session next year, she said.

&uot;All I know right now is that we need to know by the spring of 2003. That’s essentially when the races begin,&uot; Schwab said.

Once the boundaries of the legislative districts are redrawn, the counties and cities have to realign their borders. Everyone has an interest or something at stake during redistricting, Schwab said.

&uot;It’s a very interesting process, and I’m keeping an eye on it,&uot; she said.