City proposes redistricting 1st, 2nd wards

Published 5:28 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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The city of Albert Lea is proposing changes to boundaries in wards 1 and 2 because of annexations and growth in population in the last decade. 

City Clerk Daphney Maras said this will be the first time the city has had to redistrict its council wards since 1992. 

“In looking at how to adjust the city council wards, our main goal was to achieve the least disruption for voters,” Maras said. “This proposal affects only two of six wards and results in only one term ending early due to redistricting.”

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Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of election districts to ensure that the people of each district are equally represented. Local, state and federal government units consider redistricting for elected offices after the U.S. Census every 10 years.

When redistricting, the city is encouraged not to shift multiple wards if not necessary. She said the city was lucky to be able to adjust its boundaries by only changing two wards.

“It’s exciting to be a part of,” she said of the process.

Specifically, the boundary adjustment would switch the residents on the following streets from Ward 1 to Ward 2:

Elm Street, Belgrade Drive, North and West Trail Road, Itasca Road, 740th Avenue, Country Club Road and Edgewater Drive. It would also include portions of Martin Road, Richway Drive and Crescent Drive.

With the changes, the term for the Ward 1 council seat, currently held by Rich Murray, would end two years earlier than scheduled, and the Ward 1 councilor elected this year would serve two years, with the term returning to four years the next election.

The Ward 2 seat, held by incumbent Larry Baker, is already scheduled for election this year, along with seats in Ward 4 and Ward 6, currently held by Reid Olson and Al “Minnow” Brooks, respectively.

Filings for elected offices in Minnesota will open May 17 and close May 31 with primaries Aug. 9 and the general election Nov. 8. The terms would begin in January 2023.

The council is slated to vote on the redistricting plan in its March 14 meeting.

Once approved, the changes will be sent to Freeborn County, where redistricting changes will also have to be made at the county commissioner district level.

Under the redistricting proposal, the polling place for Ward 1 would move from the Edgewater Park Pavilion to the Fairlane Building at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Due to space needs, the city is planning to move voting for Ward 5 from City Hall to the National Guard Armory.

Once the city and county adopt new election districts, the state of Minnesota will update its online polling place finder: