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Paynesville Press - March 27, 2002

Redistricting keeps Paynesville area divided

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville area remains divided into two Congressional districts and three state legislative seats, according to a new redistricting plan released last week.

Redistricting needed to be done following the 2000 census, to insure equal representation in all the districts.

A panel of five judges, appointed by Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz of the Minnesota Supreme Court, released the new redistricting plan on Tuesday, March 19, in lieu of a redistricting statute by the Legislature and Governor Jesse Ventura.

MN Congressional Districts Redistricting by city and township
CityCongressional District Minnesota House District
Lake HenrySeventh District 13A
PaynesvilleSixth District 14B
RegalSeventh District 13A
RoscoeSixth District 14B
St. MartinSixth District 13A
Spring HillSeventh District 13A
Eden LakeSixth District 14B
IrvingSeventh District 13A
Lake HenrySeventh District 13A
ManannahSixth District 18B
MunsonSeventh District 14B
PaynesvilleSixth District 14B
RosevilleSeventh District 13A
St. MartinSixth District 13A
Spring HillSeventh District 13A
Union GroveSeventh District 18B
ZionSixth and Seventh Districts 14B

Congressional districts
Due to the growth in the Twin Cities metro area, especially in suburban areas, outstate Minnesota lost a Congressional district. Before, the state was divided into two city districts, two suburban districts, and four outstate districts.

Now, there will still be two city districts (one based on Minneapolis and another on St. Paul), three primarily suburban districts, and three outstate districts.

The Paynesville area sits on the border of the Sixth and Seventh Congressional districts, which each have a population around 615,000.

The Sixth District includes both Anoka and Washington counties on the north side of the Twin Cities as well as Benton, Sherburne, and Wright counties in the growth corridor along Interstate 94 to St. Cloud.

Stearns County is divided between the Sixth and Seventh districts, with the eastern half of Stearns, including St. Cloud, in the Sixth District. The city of Paynesville, Paynesville Town-ship, Eden Lake Township, Munson Township, the city of St. Martin, St. Martin Township, and parts of Zion Township are in this district.

Zion Township split The dividing line between the Sixth and Seventh districts is straight except in Zion Township. Ten sections in the western end of the township, with a population of 113, is in the Seventh District, while the remaining 26 sections, with a population of 275, is in the Sixth District.

The Sixth District has two incumbents: Democrat Bill Luther of Brooklyn Park, who has represented the Sixth District for four terms; and Republican Mark Kennedy, a first-term Representative in the current Second District, which includes both Meeker and Kandiyohi counties as well as the city of Paynesville, Paynesville Township, and Eden Lake Township.

Kennedy's home near Watertown is right along the border between the new Second and Sixth districts. Kennedy considered which district to run in this fall and announced on Monday that he would stay in the Sixth District and face Luther.

"I have strong attachments to both the new Second and Sixth districts," said Kennedy last week. "I regret not being able to represent southwest Minnesota after 2002. But I will continue to represent it to the best of my ability through the end of the year."

Kennedy also may face a challenge on the Republican side in the new Sixth District. Former Senator Rod Grams also lives in the new Sixth District, which he represented for one term before being elected to the Senate, and Grams has shown interest in running in 2002.

All of Meeker County, all of Kandiyohi County, and the western half of Stearns County - including the city of Lake Henry, Lake Henry Township, and Spring Hill Township - are in the new Seventh District. This new district runs from the Minnesota River Valley up to the Red River Valley and includes the northwest corner of the state. Six-term Democrat Colin Peterson of Detroit Lakes is the incumbent in the Seventh District.

LeRoy Schlangen of Roscoe has announced plans to run for the Republican nomination in the Seventh District against Peterson. Schlangen's farm in Munson Township is now in the Sixth District, but he plans to move to the Seventh District if he gets the endorsement.

Legislative districts
Minn. Seats Once again, the Paynesville area is on the dividing lines between three state legislative districts. Each state Senate district has a population of around 73,000 while each House district has around 36,500.

The eastern half of Stearns County is still District 14B. "Because the population has been growing in many of these communities, the new District 14B is much smaller geographically than before, although the number of residents is about the same," said Doug Stang (R-Cold Spring), who is in his third term representing the district in the Minnesota House. District 14B lost a number of townships in western Stearns County as well as Rockville. District 14B is one of the districts with more than one current member of the Legislature. Both Stang and Rep. Steve Dehler (R-St. Joseph) live in the district, though Dehler may opt to run in his old District 14A, which is open.

"We've speculated for quite some time that St. Joseph and Cold Spring could be in the same district because they're so close geographically," said Stang. "We had talked about it before," he added, "so it wasn't much of a surprise."

Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) is the incumbent in the Senate District 14.

All of Meeker County is now in District 18B, along with a few townships on the western edge of Wright County. Five-term Representative Bob Ness (R-Dassel) and three-term Senator Steve Dille (R-Dassel) remain in this district, which is similar in shape but has a new number from the old District 20.

"For months, redistricting has been a bit of a collective worry hanging over our heads," said Sen. Dille last week. "I think we all wanted to make sure that the new districts would be good for our citizens, taking into account communities of interest and regional needs that are best kept together. Today we can stop worrying. The courts delivered a fair plan for our state, and I commend them for their hard work."

The western half of Stearns County and the northern part of Kandiyohi County are now in the new District 13A, which is an open seat. The city of Lake Henry, Lake Henry Township, the city of St. Martin, St. Martin Township, the city of Spring Hill, and Spring Hill Township used to be in District 14B. The northern part of Kandiyohi County - including Roseville and Irving townships - used to be in District 15A with Willmar.

The new District 13A also includes all of Pope County.

"I think that area will be a battleground in the upcoming election," predicted Representative Al Juhnke (DFL-Willmar), who used to represent the northern part of Kandiyohi County but saw his district change. He will now get acquainted with voters in the southern half of the county instead.

District 13 includes six-term Senator Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar), who will continue to represent all of Kandiyohi County, as well as adding the western half of Stearns and all of Pope.

(Editor's Note: More information about redistricting is available online at, www.leg., or

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