Linn County redistricting committee makes its pick for new map

Draft plan No. 2 recommended, public hearing set for Oct. 3

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A committee tasked with recommending a new map of three districts for the Linn County Board of Supervisors made its pick during a meeting Thursday.

The selected plan — draft plan No. 2 — divides Cedar Rapids with the south half in one district and the north half grouped with Hiawatha and Robins into a second district. Marion is in a third district with the rest of the outlying rural areas and townships of Linn County.

Committee members Ray Dochterman, Sarah Halbrook and Nate Willems voted to approve the plan. Cindy Golding and Dave Machacek supported other plans.

The recommended map must be approved by the Linn County Board of Supervisors and the state.

The five-person redistricting committee was formed after Linn County residents voted to reduce the number of county supervisors from five to three. In an Aug. 1 special election, in which fewer than 10,000 votes were cast in Linn County, voters chose to stick with the county’s current representation plan, which has supervisors living within specific districts and elected by the residents of their district.

During public comment at Thursday’s meeting, Supervisor Brent Oleson told the committee he favors draft plan No. 2 because it splits the metro areas of the county most fairly. Most notably, he mentioned it separates Hiawatha and Robins from Marion as development continues in those areas.

“That map will best advocate for those issues because you’ll have two of the three (supervisors) who have skin in the game,” Oleson said.

When Dochterman moved to vote on plan No. 2, he agreed with Oleson.

“There’s a lot of activity in Hiawatha and Marion right now,” Dochterman said. “There’s an explosion of construction of epic proportions. I believe it’s just too much responsibility for one person.”

Halbrook and Willems agreed, saying they feel the plan will most equally split the populations of each district.

The other plans

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. 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.

Willems said he believes each district under draft plan No. 2 gives best representation of rural to metro populations.

“Under plan 3, all three (districts) would be dominated by the metro area,” he said.

Public Hearing set

A public hearing on the matter will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at the Jean Oxley Public Service Center, 935 Second St. SW, Cedar Rapids.

Linn County residents will be able to share preferences and ideas with committee members.

Following a public hearing, the temporary committee will hold another meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at the Jean Oxley Public Service Center to make adjustments as necessary before the recommendation is sent to the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

The terms for all five current supervisors expire at the end of 2018. Voters in November 2018 will select three supervisors to form a new board starting in January 2019.

If the proposed redistricting plan is adopted and everyone runs for re-election, current supervisors Brent Oleson and John Harris may be competing for a seat on the board. Supervisors Stacey Walker and James Houser may have to campaign against each other, as might current supervisor Ben Rogers and potential candidate and current Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.

Reporter Mitchell Schmidt contributed to this report.

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com

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