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Look for some big changes in new Detroit Lakes ward maps for 2022

Members of the Detroit Lakes city staff unveiled potential new ward maps for 2022 as a result of the 2020 U.S. Census during a council work session on Dec. 21. One city official said Ward One needed to cede portions of their district to the other two wards to more evenly balance the population, which the potential new map achieves. The city will have to wait for the state legislature, or more likely the Minnesota court system, to enact new congressional and legislative maps before municipal maps are due on March 29, or 60 days following the enactment of the new legislative districts.

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Potential 2022 Detroit Lakes Ward Map. (submitted)

New potential ward maps were unveiled by Detroit Lakes city staff during a council member work shop last Tuesday.

The Dec. 21 presentation by Kelcey Klemm, city administrator for Detroit Lakes, seemed to be well received by the council members due to even-looking splits between the northern, southwestern and southeastern portions of town. And, Klemm said, all of the current polling locations will remain the same.

"Really the issue is that with the new census, Ward One has grown too much in population," said Klemm, during the meeting. "Ward One is at 3,554, Ward Two is at 2,974 and then Ward Three is at 3,341 … so basically, Ward Two needs to grow and Ward One needs to shrink."

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Klemm explained the how city staff arrived at their new maps by keeping the natural dividers of the city, like Highway 10 and Washington Avenue and Long Bridge, as the natural boundaries for the new maps.

"If we put everything north of Highway 10 into Ward One, how does that look?" said Klemm, discussing the map drawing process. "Washington Avenue is kind of our east and west split … so we basically drew that line straight down Washington Avenue. The south side of the lake gets a little confusing with the way the census blocks are, but ultimately what we landed on was Long Bridge."

He added, when they looked at those natural splits, it put the three ward populations "almost exact."

The new maps would cut that disparity to a difference of only 54 voters, with Ward Two representing 3,309 residents to Ward One's 3,255.

"There is a negative to this," said Klemm. "I think one of the negatives is that it does change quite a few peoples wards just as general voters, so we've got to do a lot of communications, send out a lot of letters, publish, if this is the direction that the council chooses to go, you have to do some PR to get people to know what ward they are in because there are some changes."

The only change of wards for a sitting council member would be Madalyn Sukke, who already occupies an at-large-seat on the city council, he said.

The new maps are still only under consideration, since Minnesota municipalities must wait until the state legislature enacts new legislative districts before implementing their new ward maps. And, if the divided state legislature can't agree on the new legislative districts, the Minnesota court system will need to step in and finalize the new legislative districts before the other district maps can be finalized.

Under the current timetable , the Minnesota Legislature must enact new legislative maps by Feb. 15, 2022 with new municipal maps due on March 29. However, if the process drags on through litigation, the new municipal boundaries would need to be passed within 60 days of the new maps being enacted. Then Becker County would have an additional 20 days to complete its new commissioner district boundaries for the upcoming 2022 mid-term election.

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"It's going to be a couple months," said Klemm.

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2020 Detroit Lakes Ward Map. Current. (submitted)

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