Sherburne County will consider redistricting options

by Paul Rignell
Contributing writer

The Sherburne County Board will open a public hearing at its 9 a.m. meeting April 3 on redistricting plans for the county commissioner districts, though residents should not expect any great change, said County Administrator Brian Bensen.

The commissioners studied five or six options at a work session March 14, with some drawings showing dramatically different shapes for certain districts but “the ones they favored (would have) the least impact,” Bensen told the Star News this week.

He said at least two designs would be presented for the public hearing, “and possibly one other that would be similar.”

Whichever final plan that the board should select, the county asked Livonia Township to establish a new precinct in the township’s southwest corner, south of County Road 1 and adjacent to Elk River.

Residents of the new precinct will vote in primary and general elections with those of Livonia’s 1st Precinct (which is located generally west of Highway 169) at the Freshwaters United Methodist Church near Highway 169 and 273rd Avenue.

Residents of Livonia’s 2nd Precinct, located east of Highway 169, will vote at the town hall, 11162  265th Ave.

County Commissioner Rachel Leonard, of Livonia Township, occupies one of the three board seats with terms that are scheduled to expire next December. Prior to the March work session where the commissioners considered redistricting options, Leonard told the Star News that she planned to seek re-election in response to a pledge from Wendy Kowalski, a Zimmerman City Council member, that she would challenge for one of the county positions.

Leonard’s home address is not within the township’s new precinct that will be separated from her current district, and the rest of Livonia Township surrounds Zimmerman city limits. Therefore, Leonard and Kowalski can be expected to file for the same commissioner seat when filings open May 22 for a two-week period. The current commissioners will be bound to establish the new district lines so that the five district populations would be comparable within a small percentage.

County Administrator Bensen said, “Population-wise, it’s almost impossible not to have them combined (the city of Zimmerman and the rest of Livonia Township).”

If as many as three or more eligible residents should file for any one commissioner seat, those candidates would be required to run in a primary Aug. 14 before the general election Nov. 6.

Big Lake Township
Big Lake Township is adding a new precinct, for a total of four, due to a change in state legislative districts. Town Clerk Laura Hayes told the Star News that the new precinct generally follows County Road 75 west of Eagle Lake to County Road 5, then east in the area of 219th Avenue to the Elk River border. This fourth precinct is part of a new Minnesota House District 15B, with all other precincts in Big Lake Township included in District 30A.

Hayes said residents of the township’s 1st Precinct will vote at Lord of Glory Lutheran Church, 15550 190th Ave., while those in the 3rd Precinct will vote at the Big Lake fire station, 20243 County Road 43. Residents of the 2nd and 4th precincts will vote at the Big Lake Town Hall, 21960 County Road 5.

Hayes said this represents a change in polling sites for about one-fourth of residents in the new 4th Precinct, including people who voted previously at the Lord of Glory church.

She added that township residents may expect to receive blue voter cards in the mail before the primary election Aug. 14, so they can be certain of their correct polling site.