U area lawmakers react to new districts

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

The new legislative district lines are drawn, leaving many legislators scrambling to acquaint themselves with their new areas and constituents before starting re-election campaigns.

Released by the state court Tuesday, the new district plans accommodate 10 years of population shift recorded in the 2000 U.S. Census.

The University area’s legislative representation changed little, but slight shifts in districts 59 and 62 have some legislators clambering to learn about local neighborhoods they’ve never before represented.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, whose District 59 once ran only as far as the Law School building, now represents the entire West Bank campus, Augsburg College and Franklin Avenue neighborhood.

He said he is thrilled with the changes and looks forward to continuing work with students.

“I’ve worked hard for the University, and I will continue to do that,” Pogemiller said.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, will now be covering the West Bank, Franklin Avenue and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods.

She said she thinks the area – District 59B – will be politically similar to the area she represents currently, which extends into northeast Minneapolis.

But some legislators were not as happy with their new districts.

Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, currently represents part of the University’s West Bank, but under the new plans would lose those areas and gain territory near Minnehaha Park and along the Mississippi River.

“I no longer represent any University areas, but I do continue to represent a large number of University students, staff and faculty,” Davnie said. “I’m saddened to lose the West Bank. I enjoyed the people, the diversity and the energy in that community.”

Davnie said he thinks the issues he will deal with in his new area will be similar to those around the University.

“My relationships were more with individuals in the community than with institutions,” he said. “The people in the district will still have ties to the University, and I’m still going to be an alumni of the University.”