Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - June 12, 2002

Stearns County approves redistricting

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners approved new voting districts last week, when they adopted a new redistricting plan.

The redistricting was required after the 2000 Census.

Stearns County now has a population of 133,000 people, and each commissioner district has just over 25,000 residents.

The Fifth District ­ represented by Don Otte of Sauk Centre ­ is the western half of the county, including the city of Paynesville, Paynesville Township, Zion Township, Lake Henry, and St. Martin. The Fifth District added Farming Township.

The Third District ­ represented by Rose Arnold of Avon ­ changed dramatically. Arnold's district used to be a square block of nine townships, including the cities of Avon, Cold Spring, Eden Valley, and Rockville. Now, however, her district stretches from the top to the bottom of the county, from Kimball to Holdingford and Eden Valley to St. Stephen.

Arnold was the sole dissenting vote in the redistricting, voting against the approved plan, which passed 4-1. Arnold said she was concerned about losing St. Joseph Township, the city of St. Joseph, and the campus of St. John's University to the Second District. Those three entities have roughly 8,000 people, or about a third of her old constituents, she said.

Arnold said she was also concerned by the creation of three urban districts in the county. The First District continues to be just St. Cloud. Now the Second District is mainly Waite Park, St. Joseph, and Sartell. The Fourth District is the southeastern corner of the county.

The biggest concerns of the county involve its developing areas in more rural, not urban, townships, she said. For instance, for people living in St. Cloud, the city government is more important than the county.

Arnold thought her redistricting plan was better for the rural areas of the county. "I thought I made a good fight, but I didn't win," she said.

Otte, on other hand, could see the way of things: three of the redistricting plans had Farming Township being added to his Fifth District. Since Farming is primarily rural and ag-based, it matches the other parts of his district, he said.

Since a commissioner must run if his or her district changes by five percent of more, four of the five current county commissioners will have to run in November to stay in office. Only Leigh Lenzmeier in the Fourth District does not have to run for re-election in 2002.

Otte intends to file again and seek another term, while Arnold is leaning toward running again but has not made up her mind to file.

A map of the new commissioner districts is also available at the county's website at

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community