When it comes to future political races in this area, it’s proving to be a mixed up, jumbled up, shook up area.
Area state lawmakers were left scrambling last week when a judicial panel released redrawn state House and Senate districts that have pitted sitting lawmakers in the same district.
Some clarity is starting to emerge this week as two area lawmakers said they plan to run in their new districts which they will share with other sitting lawmakers.
Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, and Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, said this week they plan to run in the new district — Dettmer in new House 39A and Vandeveer in Senate 39. District 39 replaces what is today District 52.
Both men said they plan to move ahead with reelection plans for this fall. That comes as Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Shafer, finds his home now in 39A, and Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, finds Vandeveer’s district expanded to include the area where Lillie lives.
Dettmer said this week he talked over the decision with his wife Colleen and others close to him before deciding to run again. “It’s a good opportunity to meet some new people, some good people,” Dettmer said.
Under the redistricting, the current District 52A loses Columbus and Linwood to the west of Forest Lake but gains two communities in Chisago County — Shafer and Franconia Township. Columbus and Linwood now fall in House District 31B.
“I’ll miss the people in Columbus, Linwood, Centerville and Lino Lakes,” Dettmer said. But he welcomes the new district area along the scenic St. Croix River.
Dettmer said he will seek the party endorsement at the Senate District Convention on March 24 in Mahtomedi for a fourth term in the House.
The former teacher and coach at Forest Lake High School said he was somewhat surprised by the new district, but saw fairness in that Democrats were paired in six districts and Republicans were paired in six districts statewide.
“I thought maybe Wyoming,” Dettmer said of what communities he could have been serving in a new district.
But Wyoming remains in what will be 31B. With Barrett living in Shafer and what is now District 17B, the new 31B is one of 15 open districts.
Barrett declined comment in person for this story, but said through a spokeswoman that he is concentrating on session business and has made no decision on his future plans. She said Barrett has had little time to look at the new district.
Dettmer said he spoke to Barrett but would not comment on what his fellow Republican may do. “It’s hard to pick up and move,” Dettmer said.
Moving within the new district is one option Barrett could entertain. If he does not move and run again in his old district, the field would be wide open.
Russ Goudge, a former Wyoming council member, and Don Taylor, a former mayor in Chisago City, have prior interest in House politics. Former Wyoming Mayor Sheldon Anderson, now district director for Congressman Chip Cravaack, lost to Barrett in a primary challenge two years ago.
Current County Commissioner Ben Montzka of Stacy ran as the Republican candidate in the House race in 1988, losing to Loren Jennings.
Vandeveer said this week the fact that he now represents about two-thirds of the new Senate District 39 has reinforced his decision to seek a third Senate term. Including his stay in the House, he has been in the legislature since 1998, a period that includes six years in the Senate.
“It’s an area I look forward to representing again,” Vandeveer said. “I plan to run again.”
The new Senate district loses its Anoka County coverage area, but drops south to include all of Stillwater, Lake Elmo, St. Mary’s Point and the two communities in Chisago County.
Vandeveer said he did not expect to be drawn into a district with a colleague who he has worked closely with.
Calls to Sen. Lille, a first-term Senator, seeking comment on his plans were not returned this week.
“It was a shock,” Vandeveer said of the new political boundaries. “It was a surprise as there was no one close to us.”
“It’s really tough,” he added. “Nobody likes this. It’s extremely awkward, uncomfortable and sad.”
But he said he will move forward positively. “It’s a good area,” he said.
Vandeveer said there is no use in complaining and he will trust that the judicial panel was acting in the best interests of the state.
“Hopefully their intent was to do justice,” he said of the redistricting panel. “There is no sense complaining about it; it is what it is.”
Redistricting takes place every 10 years following a federal census. When the Republican-controlled legislature and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton could not agree on a redistricting plan, the judicial panel effort was required.