Redistricting commission seeks citizens

Minneapolis is redrawing its 13 city council wards in 2012.

by Sarah Nienaber

Minneapolis is seeking artists âÄî to draw city lines, that is.
With 2010 U.S. census data, the city is gearing up for redistricting its 13 wards.
The city redraws its city council ward boundaries every 10 years. The Minneapolis Charter Commission announced last week it is seeking residents to be a part of an advisory committee. The application period is open through March 20.
The actual redistricting takes place in 2012.
Students are eligible to apply to be a part of the advisory committee as well.
Kendre Turonie, the University of MinnesotaâÄôs student neighborhood liaisons adviser, said itâÄôs beneficial for students to get involved with anything that has to do with government.
âÄúObviously redistricting is going to have a big impact on the neighborhoods here and what kind of funding opportunities might be available to them from the city and also representation in local government,âÄù she said.
The city uses U.S. census data to redraw the city council ward boundaries. A Minneapolis statute states the population of the cityâÄôs 13 wards cannot vary by more than 5 percent.
When it does, the ward boundaries need to be redrawn to meet the requirement.
In the past, there was a politically driven redistricting commission appointed to redraw the wards of Minneapolis. Members from each party were appointed to work on redrawing the lines.
This system was changed in November to one that gives a charter commission the responsibility, making the process less political, said Barry Clegg, chairman of the charter commission.
The charter commission is appointed by the chief justice of Hennepin County, making it less partisan.
Clegg said the process of redistricting begins with the review of computerized maps with census data, with the goal of forming even wards.
After 2002 redistricting, the Green Party sued Minneapolis after newly drawn boundaries pitted two members of the party against two members of the DFL in a city council election. Both members of the Green Party lost, but the lawsuit was eventually dropped, Clegg said.
âÄúThese things tend to produce litigation if someone is unhappy,âÄù he said, âÄúand someoneâÄôs always unhappy.âÄù
It gets pretty tough to please everyone during the process, Clegg said, but the charter commission has the final say in what the new districts will look like.
The purpose of the advisory group is to add diversity to the commission, he said.
âÄúWe donâÄôt have a lot of young people on the charter commission; we donâÄôt have a lot of people of color on the charter commission,âÄù he said. âÄúSo those are all areas we are hoping to increase representation in.âÄù
James De Sota, neighborhood director for the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said âÄúregular citizensâÄù need to be involved with city government.
âÄúI think you want to have people there who care about making it as fair as possible, and hopefully people who arenâÄôt very politically minded, to be honest.âÄù
The city had received two applications for the advisory board position as of Monday afternoon.