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Wendy Reuer, Published April 28 2012

New districts put Clay County commissioners in election mode

MOORHEAD – Clay County’s plan to alter its election districts means all of the county’s commissioners will have to be re-elected the year of the change.

Those campaigns could start soon, as the county has until Tuesday to finalize the new boundaries of its election districts.

If passed, those changes would be enacted immediately, meaning Commissioners Kevin Campbell and Jon Evert, who are only two years into their four-year terms, would soon be on the campaign trail.

Filing for election to county board seats will begin May 22. Each commissioner is paid $25,701 annually.

County Auditor Lori Johnson was faced with making sure each district, based on 2010 census figures, has no more than a 10 percent difference in population while also splitting the district along township, city and precinct lines as required by state law.

At a public hearing last week, the majority of county commissioners said they favored “Option A,” a redistricting plan that will keep the cities of Dilworth, Felton, Georgetown, Glyndon, Hawley, Hitterdal and Ulen as part of District 2.

Commissioner Campbell said he believes that option ensures rural Clay County will have better representation.

The cities of Barnesville, Comstock and Sabin would be included with parts of Moorhead in District 3.

The rest of Moorhead would be divided into districts 1, 4 and 5. Districts 1 and 5 would be made up solely of city districts, while District 4 would include Moorhead’s precincts 1 and 2 as well as the townships of Kragnes and Oakport.

Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson asked the county board to approve this plan rather than Option B, which would have included Dilworth with parts of Moorhead in District Three.

Olson said it is vital to Dilworth that it be considered a rural community rather than a part of the metro area. He said sharing a district with Moorhead could cause his city to be overshadowed.

“We need to have that representation from Dilworth from the county as a rural entity,” Olson said. “Putting us in with the metro area would result in a loss of identity.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530