On April 12 Dakota County released three proposed redistricting options for county commissioner districts and three proposed redistricting options for soil and water conservation districts. Dakota County has seven county commissioner districts and five soil and water conservation districts. Dakota County commissioners plan to vote on those options on April 19. The vote will be preceded by a public hearing during the County Board meeting which begins at 9 a.m. The meeting will be held at the County Administration Center in Hastings and a livestream of the meeting may be viewed here. The agenda for the meeting may be downloaded here and the full agenda packet may be downloaded here. See agenda items 5.3 and 5.4, which span pages 50-67 of the full agenda packet.
Dakota County residents may provide input via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or by contacting commissioners directly:
Commissioner Slavik (District 1) - email@example.com
Commissioner Gaylord (District 2) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Halverson (District 3) - email@example.com
Commissioner Atkins (District 4) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Workman (District 5) - email@example.com
Commissioner Holberg (District 6) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Hamann-Roland (District 7) - email@example.com
Proposed Commissioner Districts
Each of the three proposed redistricting options for county commissioner districts would result in significant changes. The new commissioner districts may deviate from the ideal population of 62,840 by no more than 10% pursuant to Minnesota Statutes section 375.025, subdivision 1. Dakota County staff has recommended Option 1.
District 1 - Each option would transfer all of Empire Township from District 1 to District 4. Aside from that change, District 1 would remain the same.
District 2 - Option 1 would transfer Sunfish Lake from District 2 to District 3 and add more of Inver Grove Heights to District 2. Those changes would result in a district population of 68,126, which deviates from the ideal population of 62,840 by more than +8.4%. Option 2 would include all of Inver Grove Heights within District 2 while transferring much of West St. Paul to District 3. Option 3 would include Mendota Heights, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Lilydale, Sunfish Lake, and a small portion of Inver Grove Heights within District 2 while a portion of Inver Grove Heights would be transferred to District 4. More information about District 2 is available here courtesy of Kevin Hendricks from the West St. Paul Reader.
District 3 - Option 1 would transfer Sunfish Lake to District 3 and a small portion of Eagan would be transferred to District 4. Option 2 would transfer more of Eagan from District 3 to District 4 while transferring most of West St. Paul to District 3. Option 3 would drastically change District 3 with all but the southeast corner of Eagan becoming part of District 3 and all of Mendota Heights and Lilydale being transferred to District 2.
District 4 - Each option would transfer all of Empire Township from District 1 to District 4. Options 1 and 2 would transfer the northeast corner of Lakeville from District 6 to District 4. Option 3 would transfer the northeast corner of Lakeville from District 6 to District 7 and would transfer the eastern edge of Apple Valley from District 7 to District 4. Option 1 would extend the western boundary of District 4 further into southwest Eagan and Option 2 would include the entire southern third of Eagan in District 4. Option 3, on the other hand, would only include the southeast corner of Eagan in District 4 while including almost all of Inver Grove Heights within District 4. Option 1 would result in a district population of 59,486, which deviates from the ideal population of 62,840 by more than -5.3%.
District 5 - Each option would keep District 5 the same, consisting of Burnsville.
District 6 - Each option would keep District 6 intact with the exception of Lakeville Precincts 16 and 18. Options 1 and 2 would transfer the northeast corner of Lakeville from District 6 to District 4. Option 3 would transfer the northeast corner of Lakeville from District 6 to District 7.
District 7 - Options 1 and 2 would keep District 7 largely intact, consisting of Apple Valley and Rosemount Precincts 3 and 5. Option 3 would transfer the northeast corner of Lakeville from District 6 to District 7 and would transfer the western edge of Rosemount from District 7 to District 4.
Proposed Soil and Water Conservation Districts
During a special meeting on April 14 the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to recommend adopting SWCD Option 2. A map showing the new SWCD districts under Option 2 with an overlay of the existing districts is available here.
Effects on Elections
Under Commissioner Districts Options 1 and 2, Commissioner Atkins would be redistricted out of District 4 and into District 2 based on his current residence. Under each of the three options Commissioner Halverson would remain in District 3.
Commissioners Halverson (District 3), Atkins (District 4), Workman (District 5), and Hamann-Roland (District 7) are each serving terms that continue through 2024. However, if the redistricting plan adopted by County Commissioners alters the constituency of their districts by more than 5% (3,142 residents), Dakota County will be required to hold elections for those districts in 2022, in addition to the other three commissioner districts that will be on the ballot. Commissioner Districts 3 and 4 will be on the ballot in 2022 if any of the three proposed redistricting options are adopted. Commissioner District 7 will be on the ballot in 2022 as well if Option 3 is adopted.
In addition to five or six of the seven commissioner districts being on the ballot in 2022, commissioners will also decide on April 19 whether to change the length of the terms of the commissioners to be elected in 2022 to represent Districts 3, 4, and/or 7. Regardless of which option is selected, commissioners plan to alter the term for District 3 so that the person elected in 2022 will serve a new four-year term, continuing through 2026, rather than serving the remainder of the existing term, through 2024. The commissioner elected to represent District 4, and if a new election is required, District 7, would serve a two-year term continuing only through 2024. If that change is made, Districts 4, 5, and 7 will be on the ballot in 2024 and Districts 1, 2, 3, and 6 will be on the ballot again in 2026.
The constituency of each soil and water conservation district will change by more than 5%, so each district will be on the ballot in 2022. The Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation Board determined by lot that the directors elected to represent SWCDs 1, 2, and 3 will be elected to serve two-year terms, and the directors elected to represent SWCDs 4 and 5 will be elected to serve four-year terms.
Population Variance Map for Existing County Commissioner Districts
Commissioner Districts Option 1 Map
Commissioner Districts Option 2 Map
Commissioner Districts Option 3 Map
Population Variance Map for Existing Soil and Water Conservation Districts
SWCD Option 1 Map
SWCD Option 2 Map
SWCD Option 3 Map
Background Information Regarding Requirement to Hold New Elections
Minnesota Statutes section 375.025, subdivision 4, provides that "When a county is redistricted, there shall be a new election of commissioners in all the districts at the next general election except that if the change made in the boundaries of a district is less than five percent of the average of all districts of the county, the commissioner in office at the time of the redistricting shall serve for the full period for which elected." In 1981 the Hennepin County Attorney's Office sought an opinion from then Minnesota Attorney General Warren Spannaus regarding the meaning of that language. The question raised was, when determining the extent to which a district has changed, whether a county need only consider the net population change, or whether a county must add the number of individuals removed from a district to the number of people added to a district and thereby consider the aggregate change in the population of a district.
Within Attorney General Opinion 789-d, issued on October 17, 1981, Attorney General Spannaus reached the conclusion that "the magnitude of the change in boundaries of a district should be determined by recognizing the aggregate of all of the population which has been added to and taken from the district in redrawing the boundaries." The opinion went on to state that "the obvious ambiguity in the statute should be resolved in favor of holding an election in those circumstances where the composition of the district constituency has been significantly altered by redistricting. Hence, we determine that additions to and subtractions from the population of the district should both be recognized in computing the ‘change’ for the purposes of section 375.025, subd. 4 (1980)." Within its 1981-1982 biennial report the Office of the Attorney General summarized the opinion on page 52 by stating that "[r]edistricted counties are required to tally all persons transferred into and out of each commissioner district to determine whether the resulting changes are significantly minor to exempt the district from mandatory post-redistricting elections." Since that opinion was issued, the only substantive change made to the relevant language was an amendment enacted in 1991 that lowered the threshold requiring new elections to be held from 10% to 5%.
Minnesota Statutes section 103C.311, subdivision 2, paragraph (e) similarly provides, with respect to soil and water conservation districts, that "After each redistricting, there shall be a new election of supervisors in all the districts at the next general election, except that if the change made in the boundaries of a district is less than five percent of the average population of all the districts, the supervisor in office at the time of the redistricting shall serve for the full term for which elected. The district board shall determine by lot the seats to be filled for a two-year term, a four-year term, and a six-year term."