Panel needs more time to consider new Linn County Supervisor districts

Temporary County Redistricting Commission meets again Thursday

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A panel charged with recommending a new map of three districts for the Linn County Board of Supervisors was unable to reach a consensus on a plan during a Friday morning meeting.

The new district map is needed as the Board of Supervisors shrinks from five to three seats in 2019. The panel was presented with four map options, which sliced the county in different alignments based on population, geography and rural and urban divides.

Draft plan No. 1 has the west side of Cedar Rapids merged into a district with Hiawatha, Robins and Fairfax, while the east side of Cedar Rapids is its own district, and Marion is in a district that includes much of the outlying rural areas and townships.

Draft plan No. 2 has the north half of Cedar Rapids in a district with Hiawatha and Robins, the south side of Cedar Rapids in its own district and Marion in a district of outlying rural areas and townships.

Draft plan No. 3 has the north half of Cedar Rapids in a district on its own, the south half of Cedar Rapids in a district with Fairfax and southern rural areas and townships, and Marion paired with Hiawatha, Robins and northern rural areas and townships.

Draft plan No. 4 has the west side of Cedar Rapids in its own district, the east half of Cedar Rapids in a district with south and eastern rural areas and townships, and Marion, Hiawatha and Robins in a district with rural areas and townships to the north.

Only four members of the five-member Temporary County Redistricting Commission were present. Members Cindy Golding, a businesswoman, and Nate Willems, an attorney, were the only two who took strong positions on a plan.

Golding favored draft plan No. 3 saying it better groups people based on common issues. Willems favored draft plan No. 2 saying it was cleaner, makes the most sense visually, and is most similar to the current alignment of districts in Linn County.

Dave Machacek said he like plans No. 2 and No. 3 the best, but “I’m still torn.” He said he is confident the panel can choose from the four options, rather than seeking new map options be created.

Sarah Halbrook said she needed more time to consider the options. Ray Dochterman was not present.

The new maps must be approved by February, but more reasonably should be completed by the end of the year to give potential candidates time to make plans before the June primary, said Darrin Gage, the county’s director of policy and administration.

Once the panel members reach a consensus on a plan, the Board of Supervisors will weigh in on the plans before the Iowa Secretary of State gives final approval to the new district map.

The next meeting of the commission is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Linn County Community Services Building, 1240 26th Avenue Ct., Cedar Rapids

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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