For at least the next 10 years, Minneapolis will have fewer state legislators representing the city at the Capitol, which is a concern for some local politicians.
Last week, a panel of judges revealed the new state congressional and legislative district lines that showed Minneapolis would have two fewer legislators, dropping the number from 17 to 15.
Due to a stagnant Minneapolis population and growing neighboring cities and counties, the number of city districts — and therefore representatives — has shrunk.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said fewer legislators combined with the loss of some high-profile Minneapolis DFLers in the Legislature could be detrimental for the city.
“We can’t pretend … that it’s good for the city,” Kahn said.
Rep. Marion Greene, DFL-Minneapolis, said that when there are more politicians serving, the city has “more people who understand what the city is about and why it’s important to invest in the city.”
“Obviously we wish we had more people there,” Greene said.
Minneapolis City Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said the council works very closely with local legislators. She said they work together on the city’s state legislative agenda, which has city-specific issues that they are advocating for.
Glidden added that council members maintain close relationships with legislators throughout the session when other issues arise.
“There’s a lot of interaction, a lot of contact,” she said.
Minneapolis lost legislators due to population changes. The city had 169 fewer residents in 2010 than in 2000, according to U.S. census data.
While Minneapolis and most of Hennepin County stayed consistent, neighboring counties like Sherburne, Scott, Wright and Carver County all grew by at least 25 percent.
Changes to some of Minneapolis’ House and Senate districts have caused some current legislators to be paired together in one district.
Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, and Greene were placed in the new House District 61A. Both legislators have said they will run for reelection.
“As soon as I saw the map, I called him on my cellphone and said, ‘Oh, Frank, this is a bummer,’” Greene said.
Other pairings in Minneapolis include the matchup between Sen. Ken Kelash and Sen. Scott Dibble, both DFLers. Last week, Kelash announced he would look to move into Senate District 50 rather than face Dibble.
Also, Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, was paired with Rep. Linda Slocum, but Slocum announced last week she would run in the new House District 50A. If Slocum would have faced Wagenius, Minneapolis could have lost another legislator.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he thinks that although the city will have fewer legislators, the DFL will hold all of its current seats. There are currently no Republican legislators from Minneapolis.
While state politicians and city officials agree that fewer Minneapolis legislators means less direct representation for the city, many said that as neighboring cities expand, they will develop similar issues to a metropolis like Minneapolis.
“The suburbs are beginning to go through some of the same challenges that the city has gone through,” Green said.
Kahn said many in the inner suburbs have similar concerns to those in Minneapolis, like transit and affordable housing.
Additionally, while the city will shorten its list of politicians, it has also lost some high-profile legislators in recent months.
Sens. Larry Pogemiller and Linda Berglin have stepped down in the past year. Sen. Linda Higgins announced in November that she won’t run for
reelection later this year.
While most said the loss of seniority hurts the party, others said there is a chance for an influx of fresh faces.
Thissen pointed to the recent election of Rep. Susan Allen — the state’s first Native American legislator — as one example of new leadership.
“It’s a loss because a lot of smart, committed people … have gone on to do other things,” Thissen said. “But it may present some other opportunities for a different kind of
leadership at the Capitol.”