Wyoming, Stacy stay in Dist. 4

Chisago City moves; all 5 commissioners up for election

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

There will be a change next year in the Chisago County communities that are currently part of District Four.

The Chisago County Board on Friday, April 27 adopted new commissioner districts and agreed that all five commission seats will be up for election this fall. The major change for District Four is the departure of Chisago City to District 3. The move leaves Wyoming and Stacy in District Four.

The move was the best choice among six options considered by the county  board, said District Four Commissioner Ben Montzka of Stacy this week. Montzka also announced he will seek reelection to a two-year term this November.

The adopted plan shifts Chisago City to a district that includes south Chisago Lake Township and Lindstrom. The former area of Wyoming Township that was annexed to Chisago City is now in District Three.

The redistricting follows the 2010 federal census and the need to adjust commission boundaries to reflect population changes. The action also meets a county board pledge to adopt new districts that reflect the “least change” plan, Montzka said.

The plan was adopted unanimously by county board vote.

The goal, Montzka said, was to preserve existing communities of interest within districts and not negatively impact considerations of compactness and contiguity in the respective districts. The new districts also meet statutory requirements that state each district must be within 10 percent of the average district population total of 10,777.

District Four’s new population base is set at 9247, making it the smallest of the five districts.

Under the plan, parts of North Branch will fall into three commissioner districts: District One, District Two and Five.

Montzka said he was pleased that Stacy and Wyoming did not see any division and will remain solely in District Four. The areas are similar in terms of low property taxes and the philosophy of promoting business growth. One-third of all jobs in the county are located in the two communities, he said.

“It will only get bigger,” he said of the job growth in Wyoming and Stacy.

Elections 2012

Thanks to a draw of names from a hat, the county board used the lottery system to determine how the commission districts will be placed on the ballot this fall.

Montzka will be one of two commissioners facing a two-year term. District One, represented now by Lora Walker, will also be up for a two-year term. Her District includes Lent Township, north Chisago Lake Township and North Branch C.

Up for four-terms are: District Three, represented now by George McMahon; District Two, now represented by Rick Greene; and District Five, now represented by Mike Robinson.

District Five includes Rush City, Rushseba Township, Nessel Township, Fish Lake Township, Harris and North Branch A.

District Two includes Taylors Falls, Shafer Township, Shafer, Amador Township, Sunrise Township and North Branch B.

Two other major election changes that will greet Chisago County voters involve the state legislative redistricting changes that moved Senate District 39 and House District 39A into Shafer and Franconia Township. The area is currently in Senate District 17 and House 17B. On the western border of the county, land west of I-35 in North Branch and extending north through Harris, Fish Lake, Nessel, Rush City and Rushseba will be in House 32A. What was House District 17B will now be House 32B.

The change, Montzka says, will leave Chisago County in parts of two Senate districts and three House districts. That means greater representation in St. Paul for the county, he said.

“We’re thankful,” he said of the legislative changes. “That’s the kind of representation we appreciate.”

Montzka said he expects current Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, and Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, the current office holders in what will become District 39, to be readily accessible to officials in Chisago County.