Zimmerman/Livonia landscape sliced into new legislative districts

by Nathan Warner
Contributing writer

With the new Minnesota Senate district boundaries set in stone Tuesday, local Zimmerman area citizens who keep an eye on the shifting political landscape weighed in on the changes.

GOP delegate Tom Butz of Livonia has some concerns about what happened, especially with congressional Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s district. “She was redistricted right out of her district,” he said, “which really makes me wonder how much latitude the judges had and what would lead them to do that.” As far as the local geography goes, Butz said he didn’t know what to make of it yet, adding, “There were so many changes in our area, I don’t know who’s where and what’s what.” He said it’s likely to be a challenge for people to get organized to run for offices while trying to get a handle on the changes.

The Zimmerman and Livonia area will be served by two Minnesota Senate districts — Senate District 15 and 31. Sen. Dave Brown, R-Becker, who currently serves in Senate District 16 — falls in Senate District 15. Sens. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, fall in Senate District 31. House District 16A Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, falls in House District 15A, and House District 15B is wide open with no incumbents in the district. House District 17A Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, falls in House District 31A. House District 48A Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, is in the new House District 31B. Maps by Bill Feahr

Elsewhere, Zimmerman Council Member Gregory Laney took a more positive view of the local changes. “The redistricting has made things very, very different,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I have nothing bad to say about it.” He added that the changes have put the bulk of  Zimmerman’s district in a different county, which means the BPOU convention is going to be held in a completely different location and there are going to be many new faces to meet, which is just fine with the council member. “I like to meet new people and hear their voices,” he said. “That’s why I signed up for this.”

Kyle Weimann, the DFL chair for Senate District 16, said Zimmerman wasn’t an area known for a strong DFL presence but that overall, Democrats in the area were pleased with the outcome of the redistricting. “So far, the maps seem very well balanced,” he said. “The court did a fair job, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who was unhappy about it.”

But Frank Scouten, DFL chairperson at the Zimmerman/Livonia Precinct Caucus isn’t pleased with the changes.

Sens. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, fall in Senate District 31.

“My initial feelings are unfavorable,” he said, “I think it’s injected a lot of uncertainty into our decision making.”

He added that he would like the district to be in an area that he was more familiar with such as Elk River, Princeton, or other parts of Sherburne County rather than the split into different counties.