Herald Journal Columns
May 6, 2002 Journal
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McLeod County's future: too much Hutch

By DALE KOVAR

The issue of redistricting comes to the McLeod County Board Tuesday, May 7.

As we covered in the newspaper last week, there is concern around the county that Hutchinson is getting too powerful in its control of county politics.

The current county commissioner districts are drawn so that as many as three of the five commissioners could be from the city of Hutchinson, or have a strong Hutchinson influence.

Redistricting could be the opportunity to redraw those boundary lines to balance the power more equitably.

Rather than just whine about the current districts, I set out to come up with an alternative plan. I did the math . . . and got an answer I don't like.

The total county population is 34,898. That means each commission district is to have approximately 7,000 residents in it. By law, the districts have to relatively equal in population, within a few percentage points.

Hutchinson alone has a population of 13,076. If we add that to just one of the townships adjacent to Hutchinson, that alone comes to roughly 14,000 people ­ good for two commissioner seats.

The next highest concentration of population is the Glencoe area, so that takes care of a third seat.

That leaves room for one commissioner seat from the northeast portion of the county, and a final one from the southwest area.

This scenario opens the possibility for reducing Hutchinson representation to two commissioners ­ IF one commissioner is elected from the Winsted-Lester Prairie area and another from the Brownton-Stewart area.

The catch is that it also makes it possible to have four Hutchinson commissioners, because the other townships around Hutch have to be accounted for as well.

To draw the districts around Hutch to prevent it getting four commissioners, we end back at something similar to the current arrangement where it is very likely to have three.

No matter how you slice it, there is no way to guarantee elimination of Hutchinson domination.

Rather than on the map, it has to be done with strong candidates from the other communities and voters who care.

Otherwise, the future holds nothing but "too much Hutch."


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