Just when you though West St. Paul was done with shifting electoral boundaries, it might happen again. The Dakota County Board of Commissioners is considering new district boundaries at their next meeting on Tuesday, April 19. Of the three proposed maps, one divides West St. Paul between districts.
Why More Redistricting?
This shifting of electoral boundaries is required by law to balance population after the 2020 census. The new Congressional and state legislative lines came out in February, with West St. Paul divided north and south between two senate districts. Then the City of West St. Paul had to redraw ward boundaries, resulting in about a thousand residents moved to new wards.
Now it’s the county’s turn to redraw boundaries for commissioner districts. This will impact who can represent West St. Paul on the Dakota County Board of Commissioners. The board is also looking at new lines for the Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The current district map puts West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and parts of Inver Grove Heights in District 2.
There are three proposed options for the new maps:
- Option1: Moves Sunfish Lake to District 3 and adds more of Inver Grove Heights to District 2.
- Option 2: West St. Paul’s ward 1 remains in District 2, but the rest of West St. Paul moves to District 3 with Mendota Heights.
- Option 3: District 2 effectively absorbs Mendota Heights and Lilydale and loses parts of Inver Grove Heights.
The current Dakota County Commissioners will vote on the new lines, which means some of them could be picking their future opponents. However, only Districts 1, 2, and 6 are up for re-election this year (however, the redistricting could trigger all commissioners needing to re-run). To further complicate things, District 2 incumbent Kathleen Gaylord is not running, but current West St. Paul City Council Member Robyn Gulley has announced her run and current South St. Paul City Council Member Lori Hansen is considering a run based on how redistricting goes (more on who’s running in 2022).
The implications are wild:
- Option 1: This would move District 4 incumbent Joe Atkins into District 2 for a potential face off with Gulley and/or Hansen.
Atkins could resign his District 4 seat and run for the District 2 seat now, or finish out his term and run for District 2 in 2024.
- Option 2: This would set up a Atkins vs. Hansen race
either now or in 2024, but pushes Gulley out of District 2 and into District 3, meaning she couldn’t run until 2024 whenshe’d likely face District 3 incumbent Laurie Halverson.
- Option 3: This is the sole option that would leave District 2 with no incumbent and would set up the expected Gulley vs. Hansen face off.
April 14, 2022 Update: New Election of All Commissioners?
State law requires a new election for all commissioners if there’s more than a 5% change in the boundaries of the district. So it might be the case that incumbents Halverson and Atkins would need to run in 2022.
April 16, 2022 Update: Re-Run
The League of Women Voters has the full scoop on how the different options play out. In options 1 and 2, District 3 and 4 commissioners would need to run for re-election due to the 5% rule. In option 3, District 3, 4, and 7 commissioners would need to run for re-election due to the 5% rule.
The Soil and Water Conservation Districts will also have new lines and all members will need to re-run in 2022.
April 19, 2022 Update: Board Picks Option 1
The Dakota County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously for redistricting option 1, which keeps West St. Paul intact and a part of District 2. The deciding factors for option 1 included maintaining the Hispanic population of West St. Paul, South St. Paul, and Inver Grove Heights in a single district so as not to dilute their voting power and trying to meet requirements with as little change as possible.
The new district lines mean that Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 will be up for election this year. The new boundaries put incumbent District 4 Commissioner Joe Atkins in District 2, facing potential challengers of current West St. Paul Council Member Robyn Gulley and South St. Paul Council Member Lori Hansen (
though we have not yet confirmed if all of those potential candidates will still run Update: Atkins has confirmed he’s running, Gulley has dropped out; see our post on who’s running for the latest).
These kind of local stories happen thanks to our generous supporters. You can join them through Patreon starting at just $3 per month and support local news.