Guest column: Redistricting critical for the coming years

Published 6:46 am Monday, April 11, 2022

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Guest column by Dan Belshan

Due to 2020 Census population changes, Freeborn County will be changing the boundaries of all five commissioners’ districts. County staff has worked on several redistricting plans, which will be discussed at the Tuesday county board workshop, (8:30 a.m. Freeborn Room at the Freeborn County Government Center) and April 19 public hearing (8:45 a.m. Commissioners’ Room). The county board will vote to choose a plan at the regular board meeting April 19, after the public hearing. This is a very important vote, as the plan chosen by the board will determine the commissioner district boundaries for the next 10 years and beyond!

Dan Belshan

I represent District 2, nine townships in the eastern part of the county, which includes several cities (Geneva, Hollandale, Hayward, Glenville, Myrtle) and unincorporated areas (London, Oakland, Maple Island, Gordonsville). One of the redistricting plans presented (Plan B) is to give District 2 ten townships, give District 1 ten townships and give three commissioners no townships, putting their districts completely in the city of Albert Lea. In my opinion, that puts Albert Lea against the townships, punishing 20 townships by giving them only two commissioners, and rewarding the city of Albert Lea by giving it three commissioners.

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Since more than 90% of the county infrastructure (county roads and bridges — including maintenance and snow removal, signage, spraying road ditches, driveway and culvert permits, drainage ditches, flooding issues, rural zoning and building, septic systems, feedlots and animal management, railroad crossings and more) is in the townships outside of Albert Lea, and most infrastructure in the city is overseen by Albert Lea city councilors, I suggested Plan B should be eliminated, and redone so each commissioner had a piece of the city of Albert Lea and some townships. This would share the workload and make each commissioner aware of issues in cities and rural areas. County staff has since worked on plans that give commissioners a more equal representation of Albert Lea and townships. To view some plans, go to and type “redistricting” into the search bar. Let your commissioner know your opinion, and attend the workshop on Tuesday, and public hearing and county board meeting on the 19th. 

My suggestion is based on fairness, and that each commissioner should have hands-on knowledge of the entire county, not because I want less work. I am now in my 24th year representing District 2, and have chosen not to run for re-election, in order to spend more time with my wife, Bonnie, and our five grandchildren. The county is in good hands — current administration and staff are doing a great job running the county business, and the three recently elected commissioners are the best board with which I’ve worked! 

I’ve never missed a regular meeting of the county board, even when some were by phone or computer during the pandemic. I have appreciated the strong support from District 2, winning contested elections by an average of 72%.  Asking questions, using common sense, researching issues and bringing out facts, solving problems, looking for ways to save money, following the wishes of the taxpayers, I’ve kept my promise to always be the people’s voice on the county board, in spite of hurdles. It has been an honor to represent you! Thank you sincerely for the privilege of serving you and Freeborn County.


Dan Belshan is the District 2 commissioner.