116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Linn County's temporary redistricting committee remains split on which proposed representation plan is best for rural residents.
With the Linn County Board of Supervisors set to be reduced from five members to three in 2019, the committee is tasked with redrawing district boundaries for a three-member board.
In the end, state law requires Cedar Rapids be split only into two districts - meaning the city will make up one entire district and about 60 percent of a second district - while Marion sits in the third district, no matter how the redistricting process unfolds.
With limited options on mapping out the county, the question the committee faces is which map - Plan 2 or Plan 3 - configures precincts in a manner that provides rural residents the best representation on the board?
During a Friday meeting, committee members Ray Dochterman, Sarah Halbrook and Nate Willems reaffirmed their support for Plan 2, which divides Cedar Rapids with the south half making up 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.
Willems said Plan 2 provides the closest thing to a rural district by lumping Marion, Mount Vernon and Fairfax with the large majority of rural precincts.
'Giving a balance in one district between Marion and the smaller towns, I think is the best way to achieve, to maintain, strong rural representing and a voice on the board, given the populations in Linn County that we have,” he said.
However, committee members Cindy Golding and Dave Machacek argued better rural representation is provided with Plan 3. That plan places the north half of Cedar Rapids in a district on its own and the south half of Cedar Rapids in a district with Fairfax, Mount Vernon and southern rural areas and townships. Marion, Hiawatha Robins and northern rural areas and townships are placed in a third district.
Machacek and Golding argued Plan 3 creates a better mix of districts, with one Cedar Rapids district, another district mixing rural and urban precincts and a third district that is more rural.
'I feel (Plan 3) gives better representation to the citizens of the county who depend the most directly on the supervisors,” Golding said. 'The rural areas, their only elected officials are the Linn County Supervisors. I feel very strongly against Plan 2 and very strongly for draft Plan 3, because of the representation we were commissioned to provide.”
Dochterman, Halbrook and Willems were appointed to the committee in May by Supervisors Ben Rogers, Stacey Walker and Brent Oleson, respectively.
Machacek and Golding were appointed to the committee by the county's lone Republican Supervisor John Harris, who was allowed by Iowa Code to appoint two members to the group.
Supervisor Jim Houser's two recommended appointments to the redistricting committee were denied by the other supervisors.
Also during Friday's meeting, Matt Price, president with Linn County Farm Bureau, said he wanted to dispel any misrepresentations that the bureau has endorsed any of the plans being discussed.
'As far as which map is the best map or which one Linn County Farm Bureau feels is best, we do not have a stance,” Price said.
While Dochterman supports Plan 2, he added all options being considered can work with a committed Board of Supervisors.
'I do find it difficult to believe that any supervisor in this county - presently or in the future - would ever ignore the plight of anybody who lived in an urban area as opposed to a rural area,” Dochterman said.
Halbrook said she liked all four maps originally provided by Linn County Geographic Information Systems services, but added Plan 2 stood out because it had the smallest variance in population between the three districts.
The committee is expected to vote to recommend a plan to the Board of Supervisors when it meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center, 935 Second St. SW., Cedar Rapids.
The county board eventually must send a plan to the Iowa secretary of state for final approval.
A report summarizing public comments made during the committee's Tuesday meeting can be found at linncounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/6469.
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