Click here, and go to page 8 to see a map of the new ward boundaries.
by Joni Astrup
There are two Elk River City Council seats up for election this fall, and only one incumbent plans to run.
Council Member Jerry Gumphrey said this week that he will not be running for re-election, while Council Member Matt Westgaard intends to seek re-election.
“I think eight years is enough, being on the council,” Gumphrey said. “It’s time for a new generation.”
He was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008.
An iron worker, Gumphrey retired from his job on Dec. 1, 2011, and is looking at relocating.
He said being on the City Council has been a very interesting experience and he has enjoyed it.
Gumphrey represents Ward 2. Under a redistricting plan approved by the City Council, Ward 3 Council Member Westgaard also now resides in Ward 2. That was not a factor at all in Gumphrey’s decision, however. He had decided before redistricting that he would not be running for re-election and told the city staff so they were aware of it when the ward boundaries were redrawn.
Local governments are required to redraw their election districts every 10 years after the census so representation among the district remains as equal as possible.
Westgaard, meanwhile, was first elected to the City Council in 2008. Prior to that he served on the Elk River Planning Commission. He is the chief operations officer or COO of Molin Concrete Products in Lino Lakes.
Westgaard said the last four years have gone by quite fast.
“You’re just getting to a point where you feel like you can truly make a difference in improving local government and your term is up,” he said, saying he intends to run this fall.
He said whether he’s a council member from Ward 3 or Ward 2 doesn’t really matter. “When we conduct policy decisions … I always think I represent the city in its entirety not just the people of Ward 3,” he said.
With Westgaard in Ward 2, the Ward 3 seat is open.
There are four wards in Elk River with one city council member elected from each.
The City Council approved an ordinance establishing the new ward boundaries in a 5-0 vote Monday, April 2.
With redistricting, the ward populations are as follows:
•Ward 1: 5,892
•Ward 2: 5,630
•Ward 3: 6,185
•Ward 4: 5,267
Wards 1 and 3 are the more urban wards while 2 and 4 are more rural.
City Clerk Tina Allard said wards 2 and 4 have fewer residents but are expected to gain more population in the next decade.